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Richer in Money, Poorer in Relationships and Unhappy? Time Series Comparisons of Social Capital and Well-Being in Luxembourg

Abstract

The worrying decline of social capital (Putnam in Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of American community. Simon and Schuster, New York, 2000) and the disappointing trends of subjective well-being characterising the US (Easterlin in Nations and households in economic growth. Academic Press, New York, 1974; Easterlin and Angelescu in Happiness and growth the world over: time series evidence on the happiness-income paradox, 2009; Easterlin et al. in Proc Natl Acad Sci 107:22463–22468, 2010) raise urgent questions for modern societies: is the erosion of social capital a feature of the more developed and richer countries or is it rather a characteristic aspect of the American society? To test the hypothesis that the erosion of social capital and declining well-being are not a common feature of richer countries, present work focuses on Luxembourg. The main results are: (1) the erosion of social capital is not a legacy of the richest countries in the world; (2) between 1999 and 2008, people in Luxembourg experienced a substantial increase in almost every proxy of social capital; (3) both endowments and trends of social capital and subjective well-being differ significantly within the population. Migrants participate less in social relationships and report lower levels of well-being; (4) the positive relationship between trends of subjective well-being and social capital found in previous literature is confirmed.

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Notes

  1. Please, refer to Stolle and Hooghe (2004) for a comprehensive review of this literature.

  2. http://www.norc.uchicago.edu/GSS+Website/.

  3. This figure doesn’t change even if, to account exclusively for the output of the national population, we focus on the gross national income, rather than considering gross domestic product. Source: the World Bank, World Development Indicators database, July 2012, http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators.

  4. Please, refer to Sect. 2 for a detailed list of countries included in the study.

  5. I am aware that migrants should not be considered as a homogeneous group. A long-standing literature starting with Rice and Feldman (1997) up to Helliwell and Wang (2011) informs that the country of origin as well as the time profile of migration have a footprint on migrants’ social capital. However, after controlling for these aspects, present results are confirmed.

  6. http://www.europeanvaluesstudy.eu.

  7. http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org. Although EVS and WVS are two separate sources of data, they are directly comparable. On the WVS web-site it is possible to download a four waves integrated data-set from WVS and EVS and a set of instructions on how to integrate WVS with the last wave of EVS data.

  8. Bruni and Stanca (2008, p. 6)

  9. Aggregated descriptive statistics for the observed sample of European countries are omitted for reasons of space, but are available on request to the author.

  10. Bartolini et al. (2011, p. 5)

  11. Bartolini et al. (2011, pp. 5–6)

  12. Namely, I consider participation in social welfare service for elderly; religious organization; education, arts, music or cultural activities; human rights; conservation, the environment, ecology, animal rights; sports or recreation; peace movement; organization concerned with health; labour unions; professional associations; youth work; political parties; local political actions; other groups. Each variable is expressed as a dummy variable.

  13. For a more detailed discussion about the pattern of missing observations and their implication for econometric analysis, please refer to Schafer (1997, 1999) and Allison (2001).

  14. Allison (2001)

  15. See Tables 1126 in the “Appendix”.

  16. Unfortunately, this variable is not available for other European countries (see Table 5 in the “Appendix”).

  17. In this work I am referring to migrants as a homogeneous group. However, it is well established that the country of origin and the profile of migration affect people’s attitudes, particularly for what concerns people’s well-being and social capital. This is true also for Luxembourg (Valentova and Berzosa 2012). However, further tests controlling for differences in trends and levels of SC and SWB of migrants from various countries and with different migratory profiles (first or second generation migrants and offsprings of mixed couples) reveal that these different specifications do not alter present results. Figures are omitted for brevity, but they are available on request to the author.

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Correspondence to Francesco Sarracino.

Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 and 32.

Table 5 Aggregate descriptive statistics for the sample of European countries—4th wave
Table 6 Aggregate descriptive statistics for the sample of European countries—5th wave
Table 7 Distribution of people participating in associations in Luxembourg by wave
Table 8 Distribution of people participating in associations in the selected European countries by wave
Table 9 Distribution of people performing unpaid voluntary work in associations in Luxembourg by wave
Table 10 Distribution of people performing unpaid voluntary work in associations in the selected European countries by wave
Table 11 Trust in others
Table 12 Membership in groups and associations
Table 13 Unpaid voluntary work in groups and associations
Table 14 Confidence in religious institutions
Table 15 Confidence in armed forces
Table 16 Confidence in educational system
Table 17 Confidence in press
Table 18 Confidence in labor unions
Table 19 Confidence in police
Table 20 Confidence in parliament
Table 21 Confidence in civic service
Table 22 Confidence in social security system
Table 23 Confidence in major companies
Table 24 Confidence in judicial system
Table 25 Confidence in political parties
Table 26 Subjective well-being
Table 27 Differences in trends of relational social capital between immigrants and Luxembourgian people
Table 28 Differences in trends of non relational social capital between immigrants and Luxembourgian people
Table 29 Differences in trends of non relational social capital between immigrants and Luxembourgian people
Table 30 Differences in trends of non relational social capital between immigrants and Luxembourgian people
Table 31 Differences in trends of non relational social capital between immigrants and Luxembourgian people
Table 32 Differences in trends of subjective well-being between immigrants and Luxembourgian people

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Sarracino, F. Richer in Money, Poorer in Relationships and Unhappy? Time Series Comparisons of Social Capital and Well-Being in Luxembourg. Soc Indic Res 115, 561–622 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-012-0223-5

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Keywords

  • Subjective well-being
  • Social capital
  • Easterlin paradox
  • Economic development
  • EVS–WVS