Happiness, Life Satisfaction, and Social Network in Korea and China

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Joonmo SON, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Happiness and life satisfaction are two representative indicators of general well-being. It has been much studied how those subjective well-being measures are associated with objective structural features, one of which is social network. The general assumption is that the wider the network the better the subjective well-being. However, the relevant literature has frequently tested the relationship between network and well-being using convenient measures of network such as number of daily contact and number of membership in voluntary associations. Therefore, we are left with an unresolved question concerning how specifically social network is related to subjective well-being.

The present study thus examines this relationship by three distinct measures of social network comparing two different countries, South Korea and China, to check the sensitivity of the relationship cross-nationally. Specifically, I use (1) name generator, the oldest and most popular network generator fitted to capture strong ties around an ego; (2) position generator, the measure of social resources embedded in occupational network; and (3) the MOS (Medical Outcomes Study) social support variable that, in short, counts number of reliable friends and close relatives when in need. The former two are general social network measures while the last is an indicator of social support.

The empirical analyses show that (1) all three network measures are significantly and invariably associated with both happiness and life satisfaction in Korea and, however, (2) only number of social support ties is related to happiness and life satisfaction in China. That is, neither name nor position generator is related to any of the two well-being measures in China. In conclusion, the results inform that social support is more robustly related to subjective well-being than general social network measures. Further, it is likely that cross-national variation exists in the degree of interrelationship between objective network structure and supportive ties.