Deep-Rooted Culture and Economic Development: Taking the Seven Deadly Sins to Build a Well-Being Composite Indicator

  • Luis César Herrero-PrietoEmail author
  • Iván Boal-San Miguel
  • Mafalda Gómez-Vega
Original Research


This work involves undertaking a reappraisal of the Seven Deadly Sins in order to construct synthetic indicators of well-being aimed at measuring spatial economic disparities and their link to economic development. The Seven Deadly Sins constitute a way of describing vices vis-à-vis Christian moral education. Yet they might also be viewed as general norms of social behaviour and interpreted today as notions related to the concept of well-being. For example, the level of concentration of wealth (greed), sustainability of resources (gluttony), safety index (wrath), problems adapting to the labour market or workplace absenteeism (sloth), etc. The Seven Deadly Sins have also yielded emblematic examples of artistic iconography and cultural production. How they are perceived and expressed may also differ depending on each group’s cultural idiosyncrasy, in the sense of a series of beliefs and attitudes forged over the centuries. Based on these premises, the current work first seeks to compile variables that reflect each conceptual dimension so as to later construct a synthetic indicator of well-being with territorial disaggregation. This enables us to explore spatial disparities and the extent to which they relate to economic development. This is applied to a group of countries in the European Union with NUTS 2 territorial disaggregation (regions). The sources of information are basically Eurostat. The method involves applying Data Envelopment Analysis to construct the synthetic indicator, and spatial econometrics to pinpoint spatial dependence effects.


Cultural identity Welfare indicators Economic development Synthetic indicators Deadly sins Europe 

JEL Classification

Z11 Z13 R12 O12 



The authors would like to thank the participants at the 8th Spanish Workshop on Cultural Economics and Management, Seville, and the 20th ACEI International Conference on Cultural Economics, Melbourne, for comments and discussion on a preliminary version of the paper. Usual disclaimer applies.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Abbott, P., & Wallace, C. (2012). Social quality: A way to measure the quality of society. Social Indicators Research, 108(1), 153–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anselin, L. (1988). Spatial econometrics: Methods and models. Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anselin, L. (1995). Local indicators of spatial association-LISA. Geographical Analysis, 27, 93–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Backman, M., & Nilson, P. (2016). The role of cultural heritage in attracting skilled individuals. Journal of Cultural Economics, 42(1), 111–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bakens, J., Nijkamp, P., & Poot, J. (Eds.). (2015). The economics of cultural diversity. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Baker, J., & White, M. (2015). Economics and the virtues: Building a new moral foundation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Becker, G. (1996). Preferences and values. In G. Becker (Ed.), Accounting for taste (pp. 3–23). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Boal, I., & Herrero, L. C. (2018). Where are the artists? Analysing economies of agglomeration in Castile and León, Spain. Papers in Regional Science, 97(4), 995–1017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bucci, A., Sacco, P. L., & Segre, G. (2014). Smart endogenous growth: Cultural capital and the creative use of skills. International Journal of Manpower, 35(1/2), 33–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cerisola, S. (2018). A new perspective on the cultural heritage–development nexus: The role of creativity. Journal of Cultural Economics. Scholar
  11. Durand, M. (2015). The OECD better life initiative: How’s life? and the measurement of well-being. Review of Income and Wealth, 61(1), 4–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Falck, O., Fritsch, M., & Heblich, S. (2011). The phantom of the opera: Cultural amenities, human capital, and regional economic growth. Labour Economics, 18(6), 755–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gómez, M., & Herrero, L. C. (2018). Measuring emotion through quality: Evaluating the musical repertoires of Spanish symphony orchestras. Journal of Cultural Economics. Scholar
  14. Guiso, L., Sapienza, P., & Zingales, L. (2006). Does culture affect economic outcomes? Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(2), 23–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Heineck, G. (2004). Does religion influence the labor supply of married women in Germany? Journal of Socio-Economics, 33(3), 307–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Herrero, L. C., Gómez, M., & Boal, I. (2018). Construcción de indicadores sintéticos de capital cultural: Análisis de las disparidades territoriales en España y contribución al desarrollo económico, MIMEO, University of Valladolid, Spain.Google Scholar
  17. Jagodzinski, W. (2010). Economic, social, and cultural determinants of life satisfaction: Are there differences between Asia and Europe? Social Indicators Research, 97(1), 85–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Katz-Gerro, T., Raz, S., & Yaish, M. (2009). How do class, status, ethnicity, and religiosity shape cultural omnivorousness in Israel? Journal of Cultural Economics, 33(1), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kim, S., & Kim, H. (2009). Does cultural capital matter? Cultural divide and quality of life. Social Indicators Research, 93(2), 295–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lin, K., & Li, H. (2017). Mapping social quality clusters and its implications. Social Indicators Research, 134(2), 403–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lorenz, J., Brauer, C., & Lorenz, D. (2017). Rank-optimal weighting or ‘‘How to be best in the OECD Better Life Index? Social Indicators Research, 134(1), 75–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Maesen, L., & Walker, A. (2005). Indicators of social quality: Outcomes of the European scientific network. European Journal of Social Quality, 5(1/2), 8–24.Google Scholar
  23. Mizobuchi, H. (2014). Measuring world better life frontier: A composite indicator for OECD better life index. Social Indicators Research, 118(3), 987–1007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Montoro-Pons, J., & Cuadrado-García, M. (2018). Religiosity and cultural consumption. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 42(6), 704–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Murias, P., Martínez, F., & Miguel, J. C. (2006). An economic wellbeing index for the spanish provinces: A data envelopment analysis approach. Social Indicators Research, 77(3), 395–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Myrdal, G. (1957). Rich lands and poor: The road to world prosperity. New York: Harper and Bros.Google Scholar
  27. Nardo, M., Saisana, M., Saltelli, A., Tarantola, S., Hoffman, A., & Giovannini, E. (2008). Hadbook on constructing composite indicators. Methodology and user guide. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  28. Nissi, E., & Sarra, A. (2018). A measure of well-being across the Italian urban areas: An integrated DEA-entropy approach. Social Indicators Research, 136(3), 1183–1209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Peiró-Palomino, J., & Picazo-Tadeo, A. (2018). OECD: One or many? Ranking countries with a composite well-being Indicator. Social Indicators Research, 139(3), 847–869.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pérez-Villadóniga, M. J., Prieto-Rodríguez, J., & Suárez-Pandiello, J. (2014). Willingness to work and religious beliefs in Europe. International Journal of Manpower, 35(1/2), 147–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Srakar, A., Miroslav, V., & Copic, V. (2018). European cultural statistics in a comparative perspective: Index of economic and social condition of culture for the EU countries, 2005–2009. Journal of Cultural Economics, 42, 163–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stiglitz, J. E., Sen, A., & Fitoussi, J. P. (2009). Technical report, commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress.Google Scholar
  33. Tabellini, G. (2010). Culture and institutions: Economic development in the regions of Europe. Journal of the European Economic Association, 8(4), 677–716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tubadji, A. (2012). Culture-based development: Culture as an encompassing economic factor—Empirical evidence for Germany. International Journal of Social Economics, 39(9), 690–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tubadji, A., & Nijkamp, P. (2015). Cultural impact on regional development: Application of a PLS-PM model to Greece. Annals of Regional Science, 54, 687–720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tubadji, A., & Nijkamp, P. (2016). Impact of intangible cultural capital on regional economic development: A study on culture-based development in Greece. Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, 46(1), 1–21.Google Scholar
  37. UNDP. (2014). Technical notes. Human development report 2013. Accessed 8 Mar 2018.
  38. Weber, M. (1930). The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. London and Boston: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grupo de Investigación Reconocido en Economía de la CulturaUniversidad de ValladolidValladolidSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Economía Aplicada, Facultad de ComercioUniversidad de ValladolidValladolidSpain

Personalised recommendations