Watching alone: Relational goods, television and happiness

Using individual data from the World Values Survey, we find evidence of a positive effect of relationality on life satisfaction, and a negative effect of television viewing on relational activities

Luigino Bruni


Scholarcy highlights

  • It is important to observe that the information available in the World Values Survey allows to identify the net effect of the relational component of voluntary activities, and to assess and compare the role played by individual voluntary activities
  • Across individuals from a wide range of countries, higher relative income is associated to higher subjective well-being, the effect is relatively small: moving up by one decile in the relative income scale is associated to a strongly significant 1.15 increase in life satisfaction
  • This paper presented empirical evidence from the World Values Survey on the relationship between consumption of relational goods, television viewing and life satisfaction
  • We found that the relational component of volunteering is positively and significantly associated to higher life satisfaction, with an effect that is quantitatively similar to that of moving up by one decile in the income scale
  • Time spent with parents and relatives has the largest effect on life satisfaction
  • The evidence presented in this paper suggests that the pervasive and increasing role of television viewing in individuals’ life, through its crowding out effect on relational activities, can provide an additional explanation of the income-happiness paradox

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