The social context of well–being

Abstract

Large samples of data from the World Values Survey, the US Benchmark Survey and a comparable Canadian survey are used to estimate equations designed to explore the social context of subjective evaluations of well–being, of happiness, and of health. Social capital, as measured by the strength of family, neighbourhood, religious and community ties, is found to support both physical health and subjective well–being.

Our new evidence confirms that social capital is strongly linked to subjective well–being through many independent channels and in several different forms. Marriage and family, ties to friends and neighbours, workplace ties, civic engagement (both individually and collectively), trustworthiness and trust: all appear independently and robustly related to happiness and life satisfaction, both directly and through their impact on health.