Wellbeing across individuals and places: How much does social capital matter?

Abstract

Subjective wellbeing has been linked, by studies at the national level, to incomes above the median, to frequent contact with friends and relatives, and to life stage, with a strong U-shaped function for subjective wellbeing over the life cycle. These national studies also have provided important thinking about the links between social capital and subjective wellbeing. Much less research has investigated the links between place satisfaction and local measures of social capital, and the effect of local (community and neighbourhood) characteristics on place satisfaction and subjective wellbeing. Thus, this paper examines social capital and social cohesion at the local level using Australian survey data with respondents’ evaluations of their community and neighbourhood relationships. The paper links measures of life satisfaction and place satisfaction to indices of local social capital. The results show that local social capital is strongly associated with place satisfaction and modestly associated with life satisfaction. The results add to the national studies by improving the understanding of how place matters in generating subjective wellbeing.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    We thank a perceptive anonymous reviewer who raised the issue of directionality between social capital and life satisfaction for this clarification.

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Correspondence to William A. V. Clark.

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Clark, W.A.V., Lisowski, W. Wellbeing across individuals and places: How much does social capital matter?. J Pop Research 35, 217–236 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12546-018-9207-x

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Keywords

  • Subjective wellbeing
  • Place satisfaction
  • Neighbourhoods