Social Capital and Individual Happiness in Europe
- 3k Downloads
This paper explores the relationship between social capital and happiness both in Europe as a whole, as well as in its four main geographical macro-regions—North, South, East and West—separately. We test the hypothesis of whether social capital, in its three-fold definition established by Coleman (Am J Sociol 94:S95–S120 1988)—trust, social interaction, and norms and sanctions—influences individual happiness across European countries and regions. The concept of social capital is further enriched by incorporating Putnam (Making democracy work—civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1993) and Olson (The rise and decline of nations—economic growth, stagflation, and social rigidities. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1982) type variables on associational activity. Using ordinal logistic regression analysis on data for 48,583 individuals from 25 European countries, we reach three main findings. First, social capital matters for happiness across the three dimensions considered. Second, the main drivers of the effects of social capital on happiness appear to be informal social interaction and general social, as well as institutional trust. And third, there are significant differences in how social capital interacts with happiness across different areas of Europe, with the connection being at is weakest in the Nordic countries.
KeywordsSocial capital Happiness Trust Social interaction Norms and effective sanctions Europe
We are grateful to the editor of the Journal of Happiness Studies, Antonella delle Fave, its coeditor for economics, Stephanie Rossouw, and a number of anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions to successive drafts of this paper. The research leading to this paper would not have been possible without the generous financial support of the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no 269868.
- Almond, G., & Verba, S. (1963). The civic culture: Political attitudes and democracy in five nations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Bartolini, S., Bilancini, E. & Pugno, M. (2008). Did the decline in social capital depress Americans’ Happiness? Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia Politica, Università Degli Studi Di Siena.Google Scholar
- Den Butter, F. & Mosch, R. (2004). Externalities of social capital: The role of values, norms and networks. Tinbergen Institute and Vrije Universiteit Working Paper, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
- Easterlin, R. (1974). Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. In P. David & M. Reder (Eds.), Nations and households in economic growth: Essays in Honor of Moses Abramowitz (pp. 89–125). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- ESS Round 3: European Social Survey Round 3 Data (2006). Data file edition 3.3. Norwegian Social Science Data Services, Norway—Data Archive and distributor of ESS data. http://ess.nsd.uib.no/ess/round3, accessed: 13.02.2011.
- ESS Round 4: European Social Survey Round 4 Data (2008). Data file edition 4.0. Norwegian Social Science Data Services, Norway—Data Archive and distributor of ESS data. http://ess.nsd.uib.no/ess/round4, accessed: 23.02.2011.
- Eurostat (2011). http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/statistics/search_database accessed: 12.04.2011.
- Frank, R. H. (1985). Choosing the right pond. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Frey, B., & Stutzer, A. (2002). Happiness and Economics—how the economy and institutions affect well-being. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Hayo, B. (2004). Happiness in Eastern Europe. Philipps-Univsersität Marburg Working Papers on Economics No. 12/2004, Department of Economics, Marburg.Google Scholar
- Helliwell, J. (2001). Social capital, the economy and well-being. Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress, 1, 43–60.Google Scholar
- Helliwell, J. and Putnam R. (2004). The social context of well-being. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London B., vol. 359, pp. 1435–1446.Google Scholar
- Helliwell, J., Barrington-Leigh, C., Harris, A. and Huang, H. (2009). International evidence on the social context of well-being, NBER Working Papers, Working Paper N° 14720, National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
- Helliwell, J. and Barrington-Leigh, C. (2010). How much is social capital worth? NBER working papers, Working Paper N° 16025, National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
- Helliwell, J., & Wang, S. (2011). Trust and well-being. International Journal of Well-being, 1(1), 42–78.Google Scholar
- Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: Lessons from a new science. London: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
- Leung, A., Kier, C., Fung, T., Fung, L. and Sproule, R. (2010). Searching for Happiness: The Importance of Social Capital. Journal of Happiness Studies, doi: 10.1007/s10902-010-9208-8.
- Loury, G. (1977). A dynamic theory of racial income differences. In P. A. Wallace & A. LeMund (Eds.), Woman, minorities, and employment discrimination. Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
- Olson, M. (1982). The rise and decline of nations—economic growth, stagflation, and social rigidities. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Oswald, A. (1997). Happiness and economic performance. Economic Journal Royal Economic Society, 107(445), 1815–1831.Google Scholar
- Paldam, M. (2001). Social capital: one or many? Definition and measurement. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14, 629–653.Google Scholar
- Parissaki, M. And., & Humphreys, E. (2005). Regional social capital in Europe. Dublin: European foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions.Google Scholar
- Putnam, R. (1993). Making democracy work—civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone—the collapse and revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
- Rodrik, D. (1998). Where did all the growth go? External shocks, social conflict, and growth collapses. NBER Working Paper No. 6350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge.Google Scholar
- Smelser, N., & Swedberg, R. (Eds.). (1994). The handbook of economic sociology. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Uslaner, E. (2002). The moral foundations of trust. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar