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Did the Decline in Social Capital Depress Americans’ Happiness?

  • Stefano Bartolini

    ()

  • Ennio Bilancini

    ()

  • Maurizio Pugno

    ()

Most popular explanations cannot fully account for the declining trend of U.S. reported well-being during the last thirty years. We test the hypothesis that the relationship between social capital and happiness at the individual level accounts for what is left unexplained by previous research. We provide three main findings. First, several indicators of social capital are significantly correlated with reported happiness. Second, social capital indicators for the period 1975-2004 show a declining trend. Finally, the trend of happiness can be largely accounted for by the increasing trend of income, the increasing trend of reference income and the declining trend of social capital – in particular by the decline of its relational and non-instrumental components

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 540.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
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Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:540
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  1. John F. Helliwell, 2006. "Well-Being, Social Capital and Public Policy: What's New?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages C34-C45, 03.
  2. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
  3. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 4200, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
  5. Alesina, Alberto F & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2877, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," CESifo Working Paper Series 246, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  8. Rafael Di Tella & Robert J. MacCulloch & Andrew J. Oswald, 2003. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 809-827, November.
  9. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Gowdy, John M., 2007. "Environmental degradation and happiness," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 509-516, January.
  10. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
  11. Welsch, Heinz, 2006. "Environment and happiness: Valuation of air pollution using life satisfaction data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 801-813, July.
  12. Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2008. "Gross national happiness as an answer to the Easterlin Paradox?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 22-42, April.
  13. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
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