Happiness and Social Capital: Evidence from Latin American Countries

  • Francisco Mochón MorcilloEmail author
  • Rebeca de Juan Díaz
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


The aim of this chapter is to analyze the impact of the three dimensions of social capital (social networks, social trust and social norms) on the happiness of 18 countries in Latin America during the period 2000–2010. This study has found evidence that (i) social relations and participation in voluntary organizations increase the happiness of individuals, (ii) individuals who generally trust in others and in institutions tend to be more satisfied with life than average and (iii) those individuals who meet social norms, are aware of their obligations and are engaged in favor of their community present higher levels of subjective well-being.


Subjective well-being Relational good Social networks Social trust Social norms 


  1. Aaker, L., & Akutsu, S. (2009). Why do people give? The role of identity in giving. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 19, 267–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahn, N., & Mochón, F. (2010). La Felicidad de Los Españoles: Factores Explicativos. Revista de Economía Aplicada AE, 54(XVIII), 5–31.Google Scholar
  3. Ahn, N., Mochon, F., & De Juan, R. (2012). La Felicidad De Los Jóvenes. Papers Revista de Sociología, 97(2), 407–430.Google Scholar
  4. Argyle, M. (1999). Causes and correlates of happiness. In D. Kahneman & Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 353–373). New York: Russell Sage Foundation, op. cit.Google Scholar
  5. Ateca-Amestoy, V., Aguilar, A., & Moro-Egido, I. (2011). Social interactions and subjective well-being: Evidence from Latin America. DFAE-II Working paper 2011–05, Universidad del País Vasco. Bilbao (Spain).Google Scholar
  6. Ateca-Amestoy, V., Cortés, A., & Morodp-Egido, A. (2014). Social interactions and life satisfactions: Evidence from latin America. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15, 527–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bartolini, S. (2011). Happy for how long? How social capital and GDP relate to happiness over time. Working paper N. 621. Dipartimento di Economia Politica e Statistica, Università degli Studi di Siena Francesco Sarracio.Google Scholar
  8. Bechetti, L., Pelloni, A., & Rossetti, F. (2008). Relational goods, sociability and happiness. Kyklos, 61(3), 343–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bjørnskov, C. (2003). The happy few: Cross-country evidence on social capital and life satisfaction. Kyklos, 56(1), 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bjørnskov, C. (2008). Social capital and happiness in the United States. Applied Research Quality Life, 3, 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bjørnskov, C., Dreher, A., & Fischer, J. (2006). Cross-country determinants of life satisfaction: Exploring different determinants across groups in society. Arbeitspapiere/Working papers no. 145. Konjunkturforschungsstelle. Swiss Institute for Business Cycle Research. Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.Google Scholar
  12. Bookwalter, J., & Dalenberg, D. (2010). Relative to what or whom? The importance of norms and relative standing to well-being in South Africa. World Development, 38(3), 345–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Borooah, K. (2006). What makes people happy? Some evidence from Northern Ireland. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 427–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bruni, L., & Stanca, L. (2008). Watching alone: Relational goods, television and happiness. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 65(3), 506–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Clark, E., Frijters, P., & Shields, A. (2008). Relative income, happiness, and utility: An explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and other puzzles. Journal of Economic Literature, 46(1), 95–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Coleman, J. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, S95–S120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Córdova, A. (2009). Methodology note: Measuring relative wealth using household asset indicators. Latin American public opinion project. Americas Barometer Insights, 6, 1–9.Google Scholar
  18. Corral, M. (2011). La economía de la felicidad en las Américas. Perspectivadesde el Barómetro de las Américas, 58, 1–10.Google Scholar
  19. De Juan, R., & Mochon, F. (2012). La felicidad de los latinoamericanos a lo largo del período 2000–2009. Working paper 0212, Departamento de Análisis Económico II, UNED.Google Scholar
  20. Dunn, E., & Norton, M. (2013). Happy money: The science of smarter spending. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  21. Easterlin, A., & Angelescu, L. (2009). Happiness and growth the world over: Time series evidence on the happiness-income paradox, IZA Discussion paper, num. 4.060.Google Scholar
  22. Easterlin, A., Angelescu, L., Switek, M., Sawangfa, O., & Zweig, J. S. (2010). The happiness-income paradox revisited. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015962107.Google Scholar
  23. Graham, C., & Felton, A. (2005). Does inequality matter to individual welfare? An initial exploration based on happiness surveys from Latin America. CSED Working paper 38. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  24. Graham, C., & Felton, A. (2006). Inequality and happiness: Insights from Latin America. Journal of Economic Inequality, 4(1), 107–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grootaert, C., & Van Bastelaer, T. (2001). Understanding and measuring social capital: A synthesis of findings and recommendations from the social capital initiative. Washington, DC: Initiative working paper, num. 24, World Bank.Google Scholar
  26. Gui, B., & Sugden, R. (2005). Why interpersonal relations matter for economics. In B. Gui & R. Sugden (Eds.), Economics and social interaction accounting for interpersonal relations (pp. 1–22). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hanifan, L. J. (1916). The rural school community centre. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 67, 130–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Helliwell, F. (2001). Social capital, the economy and well-being. In K. Banting, A. Sharpe, & F. St-Hilarie (Eds.), The review of economic performance and social progress. The longest decade: Canada in the 1990s (pp. 43–60). Montreal: The Institute for Research on Public Policy.Google Scholar
  29. Helliwell, F. (2006). Well-being, social capital and public policy: What’s new? The Economic Journal, 116(510), C34–C45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Helliwell, F., & Putnam, R. (2004). The social context of well-being. The Royal Society, 359, 1435–1446.Google Scholar
  31. Hudson, J. (2006). Institutional trust and subjective well-being across the EU. Kyklos, 59, 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Inglehart, R. (1999). Trust, well-being and democracy. In M. Warren (Ed.), Democracy and trust. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Inglehart, R. (2009). Faith and freedom: Traditional and modern ways to happiness. University of Michigan, Mimeo.Google Scholar
  34. Kingdon, G., & Knight, J. (2007). Community, comparisons and subjective well-being in a divided society. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 64(1), 69–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Klein, C. (2011). Do we need social cohesion to be happy? Luxembourg: CEPS/INSTEAD Working paper num. 2011–06.Google Scholar
  36. Latinobarometro Corporation. (2000–2010). Latinobarometro data files. Google Scholar
  37. Latinobarometro Corporation. (2000–2010). Methodology report Latinobarometro. Google Scholar
  38. Leung, A., Fung, L., Fung, T., Kier, C., & Sproule, R. (2011). Searching for happiness: The importance of social capital. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12, 443–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Liu, W., & Aaker, L. (2008). The happiness of giving: The time-ask effect. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(3), 543–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lora, E. (Ed.). (2008). Beyond facts: Understanding quality of life. Development in the Americas report. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank.Google Scholar
  41. Narayan, D. (1999). Bonds and bridges: Social capital and poverty. Policy Research working paper 2167. World Bank, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  42. Narayan, & Cassidy. (2001). A dimensional approach to measuring social capital: Development and validation of a social capital inventory. Current Sociology, 49(2), 59–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. OECD. (2001). The well-being of nations. The role of human and social capital. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation.Google Scholar
  44. Portela, M., & Neira, I. (2012). Capital social y bienestar subjetivo. Un análisis para España considerando sus regiones. Investigaciones Regionales, 23, 5–27.Google Scholar
  45. Portes, A. (1998). Social capital: Its origins and applications in contemporary sociology. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Putman, R. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  47. Quillian, L. (2006). Can social capital explain persistent racial poverty gaps. National Poverty Center working papers series-12.Google Scholar
  48. Ram, R. (2010). Social capital and happiness: Additional cross-country evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11, 409–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rojas, M. (2006). Life satisfaction and satisfaction in domains of life: Is it a simple relationship? Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 467–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rothstein, B. (2001). Social capital in the social democratic welfare state. Politics and Society, 29(2), 207–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sacks, D. W., Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2010). Subjective well-being, income, economic development and growth. NBER working paper series 16441.Google Scholar
  52. Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). La auténtica felicidad. Barcelona: Byblos.Google Scholar
  53. Senik, C. (2004). When information dominates comparison: Learning from Russian subjective panel data. Journal of Public Economics, 88(9–10), 2099–2133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Senik, C. (2008). Direct evidence on income comparisons in their welfare effects. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 72(1), 408–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2008). Economic growth and subjective well-being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox. IZA DP 3654.Google Scholar
  56. Switek, M. (2012). Life satisfaction in Latin America: A size-of-place analysis. Journal of Development Studies, 48(7), 983–999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tao, H., & Chiu, S. (2009). The effects of relative income and absolute income on happiness. Review of Development Economics, 13(1), 164–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van Oorschot, W., & Arts, W. (2004). The social capital of European welfare States. The crowding out hypothesis revisited, 2nd Annual ESPAnet conference ‘Meeting the Needs of a New Europe’, Oxford, 9–11 September.Google Scholar
  59. Winkelmann, R. (2009). Unemloyment, social capital, and subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studien, 10, 421–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Woolcock, M., & Narayan, D. (2000). Social capital: Implications for development theory, research and policy (T. I. Development, ed.). The World Bank Research Observer, 15(2), 225–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wooldridge, M. (2002). Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. New York: The MIT Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Mochón Morcillo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rebeca de Juan Díaz
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidad Nacional de Educación a DistanciaMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations