Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 2167–2189 | Cite as

Valuing Social Relationships and Improved Health Condition Among the Thai Population

  • Worawan Chandoevwit
  • Kannika ThampanishvongEmail author
Research Paper


This paper aims to estimate the effects of the extent of social connections or relationships on an individual’s subjective well-being. The study uses the life satisfaction valuation approach, which involves estimation of the life satisfaction equation and the shadow pricing method, to put price tags on or calculate the monetary values of life satisfaction gained through social connections, relationships and health conditions. An individual’s life satisfaction, the extent of the social activities in which he or she is involved, and the individual’s health condition are subjectively measured in the nationwide Survey on Life Satisfaction among Thai people in 2012. We found that the top three social involvements that increase life satisfaction among the Thai people are interacting with neighbours frequently, participating in community religious activities all the time and participating in community cultural activities all the time. Frequencies of social interactions matter to the individual’s level of life satisfaction. An individual with good health condition tends to report a higher level of life satisfaction. Using the shadow pricing method, we found that the shadow price of having frequent face-to-face interaction with neighbours is approximately 0.51 times the monthly per capita income. The value of participating in community religious activities all the time is approximately 0.49 times the average monthly income. The value of participating in community cultural activities all the time is approximately 0.47 times the monthly income. Having good health condition has the largest effect on life satisfaction: a move from having very poor health to having good health is worth approximately 1.05 times the average monthly income.


Life satisfaction Shadow pricing Subjective well-being Social relationship Health conditions 

JEL Classification

I30 D60 



We acknowledge support from the Thailand Development Research Institute, the Thailand Health Promotion Foundation, and The Rockefeller Foundation. Chandoevwit thanks the Faculty of Management Science at Khon Kaen University for its research grant.


  1. Appleton, S., & Song, L. (2008). Life satisfaction in urban China: Components and determinants. World Development, 36, 2325–2340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Argyle, M., & Furnham, A. (1983). Sources of satisfaction and conflict in long-term relationships. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 45, 481–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Becchetti, L., Giachin, E., & Pelloni, A. (2010). The relationship between social leisure and life satisfaction. Department of Communication Working Paper No. 63 2010.Google Scholar
  5. Becchetti, L., Pelloni, A., & Rossetti, F. (2008). Happiness and sociability. Kyklos, 61(3), 343–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blanchflower, D. G., & Oswald, A. J. (2004). Well-being over time in Britain and the U.S.A. Journal of Public Economics, 88, 1359–1386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bruni, L., & Stanca, L. (2008). Watching alone: Relational goods, television and happiness. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 65(3–4), 506–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burt, R. S. (1987). Strangers, friends, and happiness. Social Networks, 9, 311–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cha, K.-K. (2003). Subjective well-being among college student. Social Indicator Research, 62–63, 455–480.Google Scholar
  10. Chiang, J., Saphire-Bernstein, S., Kim, H. S., Sherman, D. K., & Taylor, S. E. (2012). Cultural differences in the link between supportive relationships and proinflammatory cytokines. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4(5), 511–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clark, A. E., Frijters, P., & Shields, M. A. (2008). Relative income, happiness, and utility: An explanation for the Easterlin paradox and other puzzles. Journal of Economic Literature, 46(1), 95–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clark, A. E., & Oswald, A. J. (1994). Unhappiness and unemployment. Economic Journal, 104, 648–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clark, A. E., & Oswald, A. J. (2002). A simple statistical method for measuring how life events affect happiness. International Journal of Epidemiology, 31, 1139–1144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cohen, S. (2004). Social relationships and health. American Psychologist, 59, 676–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Coombs, R. (1991). Marital status and personal well-being: A literature review. Family Relations, 40, 97–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DeNeve, K. M., & Cooper, H. (1998). The happiness personality: A meta analysis of 137 personality traits and subjective well-being. Psychology Bulletin, 74, 197–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. De Vogli, R., Chandola, T., & Marmot, M. G. (2007). Negative aspects of close relationships and heart disease. Archives of Internal Medicine, 167, 1951–1957.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2002). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and life satisfaction. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2003). Personality, culture and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluation of life. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 403–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Beyond money: Toward an economy of well-being. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 5(1), 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Di Tella, R., & MacCulloch, R. (2008). Happiness adaptation to income beyond ‘basic needs’. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 14539.Google Scholar
  24. Easterlin, R. A. (1974). Does economic growth improve human lot? Some empirical evidence. In P. A. David & M. W. Reder (Eds.), Nations and households in economic growth. Essays in honor of Moses Abramowitz. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  25. Easterlin, R. A. (2003). Explaining happiness. Inaugural articles by members of the National Academy of Sciences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 100, 11176–11183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ertel, K. A., Glymour, M. M., & Berkman, L. F. (2009). Social networks and health: A life course perspective integrating observational and experimental evidence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26, 73–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Everson-Rose, S. A., & Lewis, T. T. (2005). Psychosocial factors and cardiovascular disease. Annual Review of Public Health, 26, 469–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Frey, B., & Slutzer, A. (2002). Happiness and economics: How the economy and institutions affect human well-being. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Helliwell, J. F. (2003). How’s Life? Combining individual and national variables to explain subjective well-being. Economic Modelling, 20, 331–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Helliwell, J. F. (2006). Well-being, social capital and public policy: What’s new? Economic Journal, 116, C34–C45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Helliwell, J. F., Huang, H., & Putnam, R. D. (2009). How’s the job? Are trust and social capital neglected workplace investments? In V. Bartkus & J. Davis (Eds.), Social capital: Reaching out, reaching in (pp. 87–144). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  32. Kahneman, D., & Deaton, A. (2010). High income improves life evaluation but not emotional well being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(38), 16489–16493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Maganus, K., & Diener, E. (1991). A longitudinal analysis of personality, life events and subjective well-being. Paper presented at the sixty-third annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, May 2–4.Google Scholar
  34. Marcelli, E., & Easterlin, R. A. (2006). The X-relation: Life cycle of happiness of American men and women. Working paper.Google Scholar
  35. Meier, S., & Stutzer, A. (2008). Is volunteering rewarding in itself? Economica, 75(297), 39–59.Google Scholar
  36. Michalos, A. C. (2007). Education, happiness and well-being. In Is happiness measurable and what do those measures mean for public policy? 2–3 April 2007. Rome: University of Rome Tor Vergata.Google Scholar
  37. O’Donnell, G., Deaton, A., Durand, M., Halpern, D., & Layard, R. (2014). Well being and policy. Legatum Institute Report, Legatum Institute.Google Scholar
  38. OECD (2013). OECD guidelines on measuring subjective well-being. OECD Publishing. doi: 10.1787/9789264191655-en.
  39. Phillips, D. L. (1967). Social participation and happiness. American Journal of Sociology, 72, 479–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Powdthavee, N. (2008). Putting a price tag on friends, relatives and neighbours: Using surveys of life satisfaction to value social relationships. Journal of Socio-Economics, 37(4), 1459–1480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Powdthavee, N. (2010). The happiness equation: The surprising economics of our most valuable asset. London: Icon Books Ltd.Google Scholar
  42. Powdthavee, N., & van den Berg, B. (2011). Putting different price tags on the same health condition: Re-evaluating the well-being valuation approach. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5493.Google Scholar
  43. Putnam, R. D. (1993). Making democracy work. Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rosenberg, M., & McCullough, C. B. (1981). Mattering: Inferred significance and mental health among adolescents. Research in Community and Mental Health, 2, 163–182.Google Scholar
  46. Sasing, N. (2010). Debt obligation and subjective well-being: A case study in Kanchanaburi Province of Thailand. Thesis submitted as a partial fulfillment of Master of Arts Program in Population and Social Research, Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, Thailand.Google Scholar
  47. Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2007). The paradox of declining female happiness. Working paper.Google Scholar
  48. Taylor, R. J., Chatters, L. M., Hardison, C. B., & Riley, A. (2001). Informal social support networks and subjective well-being among African Americans. Journal of Black Psychology, 27, 439–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Trung, N. N., Cheong, K., Nghi, P. T., & Kim, W. J. (2013). Relationship between socio-economic values and wellbeing: An overview research in Asia. Social Indicator Research, 111, 453–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Uchino, B. N. (2006). Social support and health: A review of physiological processes potentially underlying links to disease outcomes. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29, 377–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vimolsiri, P. (2010). Green and happiness index of Thailand. Presentation at the Imperial Queens Park Hotel, Bangkok.Google Scholar
  52. Windekmann, L., & Winkelmann, R. (1998). Why are the unemployed so unhappy? Economica, 65, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yakovlev, P., & Leguizamon, S. (2012). Ignorance is not bliss: On the role of education in subjective well-being. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 11(6), 806–815.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zimmermann, A., & Easterlin, R. A. (2008). Aspirations, attainments and satisfaction: Life cycle differences between American Men and Women. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 601–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Esaan Center for Business and Economic Research, Faculty of Management ScienceKhon Kaen UniversityKhon KaenThailand
  2. 2.Thailand Development Research InstituteBangkokThailand

Personalised recommendations