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Social Network Sites, Individual Social Capital and Happiness

Efstratia Arampatzi, Martijn Burger and Natallia A. Novik
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Natallia A. Novik: Université de Strasbourg, France; Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

No 16-085/VII, Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers from Tinbergen Institute

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 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I31 L86 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016-10-17
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hap, nep-ict, nep-net, nep-pay and nep-soc
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Journal Article: Social Network Sites, Individual Social Capital and Happiness (2018) Downloads
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