Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 241–255 | Cite as

Social Capital and Subjective Happiness: Which Contexts Matter?

  • Sehee Han
Research Paper


The aims of this study were to investigate how much variance in happiness was attributable to household and administrative-area levels and to examine the associations between social capital at the individual, household, and administrative-area levels and happiness, while adjusting for various control variables at multiple levels. Data from the Seoul Welfare Panel Study (SWPS) beginning in 2008 and conducted by the Seoul Welfare Foundation were used for this study. This study used wave 1 of the SWPS (2008). The results showed that a relatively small percentage of happiness was attributed to the administrative-area level compared to the household level, which implies that a household context is more important for understanding the variation in individual happiness. The results also showed that individual level social capital variables including perceived helpfulness and volunteer work were positively associated with happiness. Perceived helpfulness and organizational participation at the household level were positively associated with happiness. However, no significant association could be found between administrative-area level social capital variables and happiness. The results indicate that different types of social capital at different levels may operate differently to happiness. The current study contributed to the empirical social capital literature by simultaneously considering the individual, household, and administrative-area levels and examining each one’s association with happiness while controlling for various control variables at multiple levels.


Social capital Happiness Subjective well-being Multilevel analysis Shrunken residuals South Korea 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public AffairsPennsylvania State UniversityMiddletownUSA

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