120 – Sociability, Altruism and Subjective Well-Being


We provide non experimental evidence of the relevance of sociability on subjective wellbeing by investigating the determinants of life satisfaction on a large sample of Europeans aged above 50. We document that voluntary work, religious attendance, helping friends/neighbours and participation to community-related organizations affect positively and significantly life satisfaction. We illustrate the different impact that some sociability variables have on eudaimonic versus cognitive measures of subjective wellbeing.

Our empirical findings discriminate among other regarding and self-regarding preferences as rationales explaining such behaviour. We document that different combinations between actions and motivations have different impact on life satisfaction thereby providing support for the relevance of these specific “contingent goods” and to the literature of procedural utility.

Our findings are confirmed in robustness checks including refinements of the dependent variable, instrumental variables and sensitivity analysis on departures from the xogeneity assumption.

Keywords: sociability, altruism, other-regarding activities, other regarding motivations, life 15satisfaction, subjective well-being.

JEL numbers: A13, D13, D64.