Social Network Sites, Individual Social Capital and Happiness

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 16-085/VII

34 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2016

See all articles by Efstratia Arampatzi

Efstratia Arampatzi

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Martijn Burger

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO)

Natallia Novik

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE)

Date Written: October 17, 2016

Abstract

Can online social contacts replace the importance of real-life social connections in our pursuit of happiness? With the growing use of social network sites (SNSs), attention has been increasingly drawn to this topic. Our study empirically examines the effect of SNS use on happiness for different subgroups of young adults. More specifically, we examine whether the effect of SNSs on happiness is moderated by individual social capital, as measured in terms of frequency of social contacts and feelings of loneliness. Using Dutch data from the Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social Sciences (LISS panel), we provide robust empirical evidence that there is, on average, no relationship between the amount of time spent on SNSs and happiness. However, we find a negative association between the numbers of hours spent on SNS and happiness for SNS users who feel socially disconnected and lonely. The results hold when we control for socio-demographic characteristics, trust, hours spent on other Internet sites and household income. Hence, SNSs are not a substitute for real-life social connections and, at most, complement them.

Keywords: Subjective well-being, happiness, social network sites, individual social capital, social isolation, loneliness

JEL Classification: I31, L86, Z13

Suggested Citation

Arampatzi, Efstratia and Burger, Martijn and Novik, Natallia, Social Network Sites, Individual Social Capital and Happiness (October 17, 2016). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 16-085/VII. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2853339 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2853339

Efstratia Arampatzi (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3000 DR Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland 3062PA
Netherlands

Martijn Burger

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Rotterdam, 3000
Netherlands

Natallia Novik

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam, NL 3062 PA
Netherlands

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