Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 443–462 | Cite as

Searching for Happiness: The Importance of Social Capital

  • Ambrose LeungEmail author
  • Cheryl Kier
  • Tak Fung
  • Linda Fung
  • Robert Sproule


After four decades of research, scholars of happiness continue to debate its causes. While it is generally agreed that a combination of internal and external factors play a role, predicting happiness well remains a challenge. Recent research has proposed that social capital may be a vital factor that has been overlooked. This paper attempts to address that omission. According to Coleman’s (1988) seminal work, three dimensions of social capital exist: (1) trust and obligations, (2) information channels, and (3) norms and sanctions. Using bootstrap hierarchical regression on data from the Canadian General Social Survey of Social Engagement Cycle 17 (2003), we identified blocks of social capital variables described by Coleman, as well as an additional factor of belongingness. Even after controlling for major demographic and individual characteristics, the majority of these blocks show significant relationships with happiness. Our findings support social capital as an important piece in predicting happiness.


Happiness Social capital Trust Obligations Information channel 



We would like to thank Christopher T. Carlyle and Timothy G. A. McLean for capable research assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ambrose Leung
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cheryl Kier
    • 2
  • Tak Fung
    • 3
  • Linda Fung
    • 4
  • Robert Sproule
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Policy StudiesMount Royal UniversityCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Psychology CentreAthabasca UniversityAthabascaCanada
  3. 3.Information TechnologiesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.Statcomp Consulting Services Ltd.CalgaryCanada
  5. 5.Department of EconomicsBishop’s UniversitySherbrookeCanada

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