The impact of economic insecurity on social capital and well-being: An analysis across different cohorts in Europe

Tim Reeskens*, Leen Vandecasteele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific


This contribution examines how the Great Recession has affected human values, social attitudes and subjective well-being in 24 European countries between 2008 and 2016. With the European Social Survey, we have constructed a cross-national pseudo-panel wherein we follow socio-demographic peer groups based on country, cohort, gender and educational level combinations. Following these groups from 2008 until 2016, we tested with fixed effects analysis whether the changing economic context—GDP per capita—and changing economic composition of a person’s socio-demographic peer-group is related to changes in human values, political and social attitudes, as well as subjective well-being. The results confirm our initial expectation that economic conditions have an influence on social and political attitudes but less so on the Schwartz human values. Furthermore, the effects are particularly pronounced among the youngest age cohort. Our results show that over the course of eight years, the youngest cohort has become more negative about politics, the state of the economy, their political representatives, and their subjective well-being. Furthermore, younger cohorts adopt more negative attitudes towards immigrants and gays and lesbians in poorer economic country conditions, i.e. with lower levels of GDP per capita; but these attitudes are unaffected by changes in the composition of their socio-economic peer-group.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial capital and subjective well-being
Subtitle of host publicationInsights from cross-cultural studies
EditorsAnna Almakaeva, Alejandro Moreno, Rima Wilkes
PublisherSpringer Nature Switzerland AG
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-75813-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-75812-7
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

Name Societies and Political Orders in Transition


  • Economic hardship
  • European Social Survey
  • Human values
  • Modernization theory
  • Pseudo-panel
  • Public opinion
  • Values stability


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