The dissertation analyses the role of social capital in explaining the happiness-income relation. It consist of three chapters: - Survey chapter explaining why happiness and social capital are actually a part of economic science; - Research chapter on eliminating the negative effects of income comparisons on well-being (the role of social capital); - Research chapter on the importance of income and social capital for well-being during economic shocks (the case of financial crisis in Europe). Chapter 1. Since the Easterlin's 1974 article economists have been expressing more and more interest in defining the sources of happiness. Their main task for over 40 years now has been to identify economic and non-economic sources of well-being in order to define polices aimed at maximizing happiness in nations. However, they have not precisely explained why the so-called ``happiness economics'' is actually a part of economic science. This chapter surveys the latest findings of the well-being literature to show that happiness is an economic concept. Firstly, happiness is a determinant of economic outcomes: it increases productivity and one's future income, as well as the probability of finding re-employment. Secondly, happiness data has been used to: value the intangibles (non-market goods such as air and clean water), derive the marginal rates of substitution, and to understand habits and preference formation. The second part of this chapter reviews the literature on social capital, showing that it is not only a component of human happiness, but it also plays a significant role in explaining economic outcomes. Finally yet importantly, numerous national and international research initiatives demonstrate that happiness and social capital are important components of quality of life and they should be considered in the process of implementing the well-being policies. Chapter 2. Are unhappiness, high concern for money and scarcity of social capital different faces of the same phenomenon? Economists tend to treat these variables as distinct correlates of well-being. On the contrary, positive psychologists argue that they all relate to materialism, a system of personal values ascribing great importance in life to extrinsic motivations and low priority to intrinsic motivations. Using data from two European cross-sectional surveys and the German Socio-Economic Panel, I test the hypothesis that material interests, proxied by the effects of individual and reference income on well-being, are associated with low levels of social capital. The results suggest that people with scarce social capital tend to have greater material interests, whereas the negative effect of income comparisons on well-being is eliminated for individuals exhibiting the highest levels of social capital. The implication of such finding is that promoting social capital reduces people's material concerns and has positive impact on their well-being. The results from a country-level analysis additionally show that, since social capital moderates the importance of income for well-being on individual level, the well-being gap between income groups is significantly smaller in countries with higher social capital. Chapter 3. I compare the role of income and social capital for well-being in times of economic crisis in Europe. I use European Social Survey data from 2006 to 2012 to test the following hypothesis: i. social capital predicts well-being also in times of crisis; ii. the importance of material concerns increases, but the importance of other determinants of well-being does not change. Regression analysis with interaction effects and the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition confirm the role of social capital for people's well-being thus supporting the view that also in times of crisis, when material concerns are urgent, policies for recovery should mind their effects for social capital.
Scheda prodotto non validato
Scheda prodotto in fase di analisi da parte dello staff di validazione