This paper investigates the role of relational goods for subjective well-being. Using a large sample of individuals from the World Values Survey, we find that relational goods have a significant effect on life satisfaction, while television viewing plays a key role in crowding-out relationality. Both results are robust to the use of alternative indicators of relationality and to instrumental variable estimation to deal with possible simultaneity. The findings suggest that the relational treadmill can provide an additional explanation of the income–happiness paradox: the effect of higher income on happiness is offset by lower consumption of relational goods, with television playing a significant role in explaining underconsumption of relationality.
Bruni, L., &Stanca, L. (2008). Watching alone: relational goods, television and happiness. Journal of Economic Behavior &Organization, 65(3), 506-528.