Advertisement

Searching for Happiness: The Importance of Social Capital

  • Ambrose LeungEmail author
  • Cheryl Kier
  • Tak Fung
  • Linda Fung
  • Robert Sproule
Chapter
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)

Abstract

After four decades of research, scholars of happiness continue to debate its causes. While it is generally agreed that a combination of internal and external factors play a role, predicting happiness well remains a challenge. Recent research has proposed that social capital may be a vital factor that has been overlooked. This paper attempts to address that omission. According to Coleman's (Am J Sociol 94:S95–S120, 1988) seminal work, three dimensions of social capital exist: (1) trust and obligations, (2) information channels, and (3) norms and sanctions. Using bootstrap hierarchical regression on data from the Canadian General Social Survey of Social Engagement Cycle 17 (2003), we identified blocks of social capital variables described by Coleman, as well as an additional factor of belongingness. Even after controlling for major demographic and individual characteristics, the majority of these blocks show significant relationships with happiness. Our findings support social capital as an important piece in predicting happiness.

Keywords

Happiness Social capital Trust Obligations Information channel 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Christopher T. Carlyle and Timothy G.A. McLean for capable research assistance.

References

  1. Allgood S (2009) Charity, impure altruism, and marginal redistributions of income. National Tax J 62:219–235Google Scholar
  2. Allum N, Patulny R, Read S, Sturgis P (forthcoming) (2012) Re-evaluating the links between social trust, institutional trust and civic association in Europe. In: Stillwell J (ed) Understanding population trends and processes. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Argyle M (2001) The psychology of happiness, 2nd edn. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Bjornskov C (2003) The happy few: cross-country evidence on social capital and life satisfaction. Kyklos 56:3–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bjornskov C (2006) The multiple facets of social capital. Eur J Polit Econ 22:22–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cialdini RB, Brown SL, Lewis BP, Luce C, Neuberg SL (1997) Reinterpreting the empathy-altruism relationship: when one into one equals oneness. J Pers Soc Psychol 73:481–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clift Gore E (2005) A place to belong: student agency in the social capital of a magnet high school. J Curriculum Supervision 20:271–297Google Scholar
  8. Coleman JM (1988) Social capital in the creation of human capital. Am J Sociol 94:S95–S120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dasgupta P (2005) Economics of social capital. Econ Rec 81:S2–S21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Diener E, Oishi S (2004) The nonobvious social psychology of happiness. Psychol Inq 16:162–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Diener E, Suh EM, Lucas RE, Smith HL (1999) Subjective well-being: three decades of progress. Psychol Bull 125:276–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dolan P, Peasgood T, White M (2008) Do we really know what makes us happy? a review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being. J Econ Psychol 29:94–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Frey BS, Stutzer A (2002) What can economists learn from happiness research. J Econ Lit 40:402–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fujiwara T, Kawachi I (2008a) Social capital and health: a study of adult twins in the U.S. Am J Prev Med 35:139–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fujiwara T, Kawachi I (2008b) A prospective study of individual-level social capital and major depression in the United States. J Epidemiol Community Health 62:627–633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Furstenberg FF (2005) Banking on families: how families generate and distribute social capital. J Marriage Fam 67:809–821CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Helliwell JF (2006) Well-being, social capital and public policy: what’s new? Econ J 116:C34–C35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hudson J (2006) Institutional trust and subjective well being across the EU. Kyklos 59:43–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lelkes O (2006) Knowing what is good for you: empirical analysis of personal preferences and the “objective good”. J Socio-Economics 35:285–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Leung A (2002) Delinquency, social institutions, and capital accumulation. J Inst Theor Econ 158:420–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Maeroff GI (1998) Altered destinies: making life better for children in need. Phi Delta Kappan, Bloomington, 79:424–432Google Scholar
  22. Maycock BR, Howat P (2007) Social capital: implications from an investigation of illegal anabolic steroid networks. Health Educ Res 22:854–863CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mayo J, Tinsley CH (2009) Warm glow and charitable giving: why the wealthy do not give more to charity? J Econ Psychol 30:490–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Morrow V, Christensen P, O’Brien M (2002) Improving the neighbourhood for children. In: Christensen P, O’Brien M (eds) Children in the city: home, neighbourhood and community. Routledge Education, Milton Park, pp 162–183Google Scholar
  25. Myers DG, Diener E (1995) Who is happy? Psychol Sci 6:10–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Paldam M (2000) Social capital: one or many? definition and measurement. J Econ Surv 14:629–653CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Parks-Yancy R, DiTomaso N, Post C (2008) Reciprocal obligations in the social capital resource exchanges of diverse groups. Humanity Soc 32:238–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Paxton P (1999) Is social capital declining in the United States? a multiple indicator assessment. Am J Sociol 105:88–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Peasgood T (2007) Does talking to our neighbours enhance our satisfaction with life? In: Proceedings of the paper presented at the meeting of the international conference of policies for happiness. Certosa di Pontignano, SienaGoogle Scholar
  30. Powdthavee N (2008) Putting a price tag on friends, relatives, and neighbours: using surveys of life satisfaction to value social relationship. J Socio-Economics 37:1459–1480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Putnam RD (1995) Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. J Democracy 6:65–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Putnam RD (2000) Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of American community. Simon and Schuster, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Rus A, Iglic H (2005) Trust, governance and performance: the role of institutional and interpersonal trust in SME development. Int Sociol 20:371–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Statistics Canada (2004) General social survey 2003, Cycle 17—survey on social engagement in Canada: public use microdata file documentation and user’s guide (Catalogue no. 12M0017GPE). Minister of Industry, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  35. Wilson W (1967) Correlates of avowed happiness. Psychol Bull 67:294–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ambrose Leung
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cheryl Kier
    • 2
  • Tak Fung
    • 3
  • Linda Fung
    • 4
  • Robert Sproule
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Policy StudiesMount Royal UniversityCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Psychology CentreAthabasca UniversityAthabascaCanada
  3. 3.Information TechnologiesUniversity of CalgaryAlbertaCanada
  4. 4.Statcomp Consulting Services LtdCalgaryCanada
  5. 5.Department of EconomicsBishop’s UniversitySherbrookeCanada

Personalised recommendations