The paper studies the effect of social relations on individual economic welfare by explicitly considering the qualitative aspect of relations that characterize the social structure of personal contacts. It argues that important information is lost if only the density of the social network is considered. This proposition is tested using microdata representative of the entire Italian population. Two proxies for interpersonal relations at an individual level are considered: the number of voluntary associations joined and the satisfaction gained from relationships with friends. Both seem to have a positive effect on two indices of household economic welfare: a subjective index and an objective one. The subjective index is based on both the subjects' personal assessment of their household general economic situation and financial difficulties in meeting certain expenditures. The objective index is calculated from objective data on the household's economic situation. The empirical results prove robust on considering a variety of control variables and using different econometric methods.
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