Social Indicators Research

, Volume 127, Issue 2, pp 919–937 | Cite as

Contribution of Natural and Economic Capital to Subjective Well-Being: Empirical Evidence from a Small-Scale Society in Kodagu (Karnataka), India

  • Francisco Zorondo-Rodríguez
  • Mar Grau-Satorras
  • Jenu Kalla
  • Katie Demps
  • Erik Gómez-Baggethun
  • Claude García
  • Victoria Reyes-García


Subjective well-being is determined by several types of sources of satisfaction, defined as forms of capitals. Most of research has been focused on the links between economic capital and well-being, neglecting the contribution of other forms of capital as source of satisfaction. Here, we bring natural capital into the equation and explore the relations between economic and natural capital and subjective well-being. We approach well-being as a multidimensional concept and then focus on three of its dimensions: subsistence, security, and reproduction and care. Working with tribal communities from Kodagu (Karnataka, India), we found positive associations between economic and natural capital and subjective well-being. Nevertheless, the two types of capitals differed on their relative contribution to (a) overall subjective well-being and (b) the three selected dimensions. Natural capital can be more important than economic capital in fulfilling human well-being. Findings support ongoing calls for explicitly incorporating ecological assets and ecosystem services in the design of policies oriented to measure and improve well-being.


Ecosystem services Life satisfaction Dimensions of human well-being Human scale development Western Ghats 



Research was funded by NSF—Cultural Anthropology Program (BSC-0726612) and ANR—French National Research Agency Project (ANR-05-PADD-0XX Public Policies and Traditional Management of Trees and Forests—POPULAR). We greatly appreciate the hospitality, kindness, and friendship of people from Kodagu. We are also grateful to P. Vaast and C.G. Kushalappa. We thank the comments and suggestions by S. Crespin, A. Fernández-Llamazares, A. Pyhälä. F. Zorondo-Rodríguez thanks the economic support provided by the “Presidente de la República” scholarship (CONICYT, Chile).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Zorondo-Rodríguez
    • 1
    • 2
    • 8
  • Mar Grau-Satorras
    • 2
    • 8
  • Jenu Kalla
    • 8
  • Katie Demps
    • 3
    • 8
  • Erik Gómez-Baggethun
    • 2
    • 4
  • Claude García
    • 5
    • 6
    • 8
  • Victoria Reyes-García
    • 2
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Lab. Conservación Biológica, Departamento de Ciencias EcológicasFacultad de Ciencias, Universidad de ChileÑuñoa, SantiagoChile
  2. 2.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA)Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterra, BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyBoise State UniversityBoise, IDUSA
  4. 4.Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)OsloNorway
  5. 5.Research Unit Goods and Services of Tropical Forest EcosystemsCIRADMontpellierFrance
  6. 6.Department of Environmental Systems Science, FORDEVETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  7. 7.Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA)BarcelonaSpain
  8. 8.Ecology DepartmentFrench Institute of PondicherryPondicherry UTIndia

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