Research Paper

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 145-162

First online:

Social Capital and Well-Being in Times of Crisis

  • John F. HelliwellAffiliated withCIFAR Programme, Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia Email author 
  • , Haifang HuangAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, University of Alberta
  • , Shun WangAffiliated withSchool of Public Policy and Management, Korea Development Institute (KDI)

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This paper attempts to show how the quality of the social fabric of a community or nation affects its capacity to deal with crises and to develop human and natural resources in ways that maintain and sustainably improve subjective well-being. Three types of crisis will be used as examples. These include economic crises; transition and other institutional crises; and conflicts over sustainable resource use. The bulk of the new results in this paper relate to economic crises and institutional transitions, and shows that communities and nations with better social capital and trust respond to crises and transitions more happily and effectively.


Subjective well-being Happiness Social capital Economic crises Transition Sustainable development Social context