Substitution, Buffers and Subjective Well-Being: A Hierarchical Approach

Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 16)


In quality of life research, social aspects have become recognized as important, next to physical aspects such as living conditions and health. However, objective indicators of physical and social aspects often correlate poorly with indicators of subjective well being. We argue that this may be due to buffer and substitution effects People produce their own well-being and there are multiple means for realizing the same ultimate goals. Multiple means allow the formation of buffers which cushion the negative effect of loss and they allow substitution when some means become costlier or inaccessible. In order to trace buffer and substitution effects, one needs a theory that specifies these multiple means and the goals they serve (goal hierarchy) One such theory is Social Production Function theory which we use to trace buffer and substitution effects. We test the hypotheses on these effects with data on 1094 Dutch respondents Even though the data are cross-sectional and thus do not allow us to demonstrate buffer and substitution effects on the individual level, there are good indications in the data that such effects exist


Voluntary Work Substitution Effect Buffer Effect Marginal Return Buffer Formation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Organisation, Policy and EconomicsUniversity of MaastrichtMaastrichtthe Netherlands

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