Searching for Happiness: The Importance of Social Capital

Ambrose Leung, Cheryl Kier, Tak Fung, Linda Fung, Robert Sproule

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)


After four decades of research, scholars of happiness continue to debate its causes. While it is generally agreed that a combination of internal and external factors play a role, predicting happiness well remains a challenge. Recent research has proposed that social capital may be a vital factor that has been overlooked. This paper attempts to address that omission. According to Coleman's (1988) seminal work, three dimensions of social capital exist: (1) trust and obligations, (2) information channels, and (3) norms and sanctions. Using bootstrap hierarchical regression on data from the Canadian General Social Survey of Social Engagement Cycle 17 (2003), we identified blocks of social capital variables described by Coleman, as well as an additional factor of belongingness. Even after controlling for major demographic and individual characteristics, the majority of these blocks show significant relationships with happiness. Our findings support social capital as an important piece in predicting happiness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-462
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun. 2011


  • Happiness
  • Information channel
  • Obligations
  • Social capital
  • Trust


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