Social Indicators Research

, Volume 110, Issue 3, pp 891–911 | Cite as

Social Capital or Social Cohesion: What Matters For Subjective Well-Being?

  • Carlo KleinEmail author


The theoretical analysis of the concepts of social capital and of social cohesion shows that social capital should be considered as a micro concept whereas social cohesion, being a broader concept than social capital, is a more appropriate concept for macro analysis. Therefore, we suggest that data on the individual level should only be used to analyze the relationship between social capital, social cohesion indicators and subjective well-being and that they do not allow commenting on the level of social cohesion in a society. For this last type of analyses aggregated indicators of social cohesion have to be computed which is not the issue of this paper. Our empirical analysis is based on individual data for Luxembourg in 2008. In general, our results suggest that investments in social capital generate monetary returns (increased income) and psychic returns (increased subjective well-being) even in a highly developed and multicultural country like Luxembourg. When we are adding on the micro level variables representing the economic domain of social cohesion following Bernard (1999), then we observe that this domain also has an effect on income and on subjective well-being. Therefore, we recommend including the economic domain in any future analysis using the concept of social cohesion.


Social capital Social cohesion Subjective well-being EVS 2008 



This research is part of the VALCOS project supported by the Luxembourg ‘Fonds National de la Recherche’ (contract FNR/VIVRE/06/01/09) and by core funding for CEPS/INSTEAD from the Ministry of Higher Education and Research of Luxembourg. The author would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers, the VALCOS team and the participants at the International conference “Market and Happiness” (Milan, June 8–9, 2011) for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CEPS/INSTEADEsch-sur-AlzetteLuxembourg

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