Relational Goods, Sociability, and Happiness

21 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2008

See all articles by Leonardo Becchetti

Leonardo Becchetti

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Faculty of Economics

Alessandra Pelloni

University of Rome II, Department of Economics

Fiammetta Rossetti

University of Rome II

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Abstract

This paper empirically investigates the impact of relational goods on individual life satisfaction. By relational goods we indicate the affective/expressive, non instrumental, side of interpersonal relationships. The homo oeconomicus view of human nature is questioned by the recent upsurge of empirical studies on the determinants of self declared happiness, that show that an increasing income does not always lead to more subjective well being (Easterlin's famous (1974) paradox of happiness). The theoretical literature on relational goods has isolated various mechanisms which may induce an under-consumption and under- production of relational goods. The hypothesis we test is that people with a more intense relational life are less affected by this relational poverty trap and are therefore happier. Our findings does not disprove our hypothesis: relational goods turn out to have significant and positive effects on self declared life satisfaction, when other determinants isolated in the literature as important are taken into account and when the inverse causality nexus i.e. from more happiness to a more intense relational life is also taken into account. Finally, we show that gender, age and education matter and in particular that the effects of sociability on happiness are stronger for women, older and less educated individuals. These findings can be useful in designing and evaluating public policies with a direct or indirect effect on the quality and quantity of relational goods.

Suggested Citation

Becchetti, Leonardo and Pelloni, Alessandra and Rossetti, Fiammetta, Relational Goods, Sociability, and Happiness. Kyklos, Vol. 61, Issue 3, pp. 343-363, August 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1162415 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6435.2008.00405.x

Leonardo Becchetti (Contact Author)

University of Rome Tor Vergata - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Via Columbia, 2
I-00133 Rome
Italy

Alessandra Pelloni

University of Rome II, Department of Economics ( email )

Via Columbia n.2
Rome, rome 00100
Italy
390672595908 (Phone)

Fiammetta Rossetti

University of Rome II ( email )

Via di Tor Vergata
Rome, Lazio 00133
Italy

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