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Did the Decline in Social Capital Depress Americans’ Happiness?

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  • Stefano Bartolini

    ()

  • Ennio Bilancini

    ()

  • Maurizio Pugno

    ()

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Maurizio Pugno, 2008. "Did the Decline in Social Capital Depress Americans’ Happiness?," Department of Economics University of Siena 540, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  • Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:540
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    File URL: http://repec.deps.unisi.it/quaderni/540.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2014. "E-participation: Social Capital and the Internet," Working Papers 2014.81, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    2. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2013. "Will Facebook save or destroy social capital? An empirical investigation into the effect of online interactions on trust and networks," Department of Economics University of Siena 692, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    3. Angelo Antoci & Mauro Sodini & Luca Zarri, 2014. "Relational consumption and nonlinear dynamics in an overlapping generations model," Decisions in Economics and Finance, Springer;Associazione per la Matematica, vol. 37(1), pages 137-158, April.
    4. Andriani, Luca & Sabatini, Fabio, 2015. "Trust and prosocial behaviour in a process of state capacity building: the case of the Palestinian territories," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(04), pages 823-846, December.
    5. Jenny Assi & Mario Lucchini & Amedeo Spagnolo, 2012. "Mapping patterns of well-being and quality of life in extended Europe," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 59(4), pages 409-430, December.
    6. Björn Bünger, 2010. "The demand for relational goods: empirical evidence from the European Social Survey," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 57(2), pages 177-198, June.
    7. Leonardo Becchetti & Elena Giachin Ricca & Alessandra Pelloni, 2009. "The 60es turnaround as a test on the causal relationship between sociability and happiness," Econometica Working Papers wp07, Econometica.
    8. Francesco Sarracino, 2009. "Social Capital and Subjective Well-Being trends: Evidence from 11 European countries," Department of Economics University of Siena 558, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    9. John F. Helliwell & Shun Wang & Jinwen Xu, 2016. "How Durable are Social Norms? Immigrant Trust and Generosity in 132 Countries," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 201-219, August.
    10. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini & Francesco Sarracino, 2013. "Predicting the Trend of Well-Being in Germany: How Much Do Comparisons, Adaptation and Sociability Matter?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(2), pages 169-191, November.
    11. Drakopoulos, Stavros A. & Grimani, Katerina, 2013. "Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy and the Effect of Income on Happiness Levels," MPRA Paper 50987, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Antoci, Angelo & Sabatini, Fabio & Sodini, Mauro, 2014. "Online and offline social participation and social poverty traps. Can social networks save human relations?," MPRA Paper 55703, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Stefano Bartolini & Ennio Bilancini, 2011. "Social Participation and Hours Worked," Department of Economics University of Siena 620, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    14. Lotito, Gianna & Migheli, Matteo & Ortona, Guido, 2011. "An experimental inquiry into the nature of relational goods," POLIS Working Papers 160, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
    15. Martina Menon & Ravi Pendakur & Federico Perali, 2015. "All in the Family: How Do Social Capital and Material Wellbeing Affect Relational Wellbeing?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 124(3), pages 889-910, December.
    16. Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Viola Berlepsch, 2014. "Social Capital and Individual Happiness in Europe," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 357-386, April.
    17. Becchetti, Leonardo, 2009. "Oltre la crisi nella società del rischio: il ruolo dell' economia civile," AICCON Working Papers 62-2009, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
    18. Carlo Klein, 2013. "Social Capital or Social Cohesion: What Matters For Subjective Well-Being?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 891-911, February.
    19. Christian Kroll & Jan Delhey, 2013. "A Happy Nation? Opportunities and Challenges of Using Subjective Indicators in Policymaking," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(1), pages 13-28, October.
    20. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2017. "Online Networks and Subjective Well-Being," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(3), pages 456-480, August.
    21. Antoci, Angelo & Sabatini, Fabio & Sodini, Mauro, 2012. "See you on Facebook! A framework for analyzing the role of computer-mediated interaction in the evolution of social capital," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 541-547.
    22. Bartolini, Stefano & Sarracino, Francesco, 2014. "The dark side of Chinese growth: Explaining decreasing well-being in times of economic boom," MPRA Paper 57765, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Francesco Sarracino, 2014. "Richer in Money, Poorer in Relationships and Unhappy? Time Series Comparisons of Social Capital and Well-Being in Luxembourg," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 561-622, January.
    24. Jiayuan Li, 2016. "Why Economic Growth did not Translate into Increased Happiness: Preliminary Results of a Multilevel Modeling of Happiness in China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 241-263, August.
    25. KLEIN Carlo, 2011. "Social capital or social cohesion: what matters for subjective well-being (SWB)?," LISER Working Paper Series 2011-36, LISER.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    happiness; social capital; economic growth; relational goods; intrinsic motivations;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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