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Dimensions of Social Well-being and Determinants in Korea:Personal, Relational, and Societal Aspects

Hearan Koo | Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, Seoul National University

Jaeyeol Yee | IAB : International Advisory Board, Center for Social Well-being Studies,

and Department of Sociology, Seoul National University

Eun Young Nam | Asia Center, Seoul National University

Ee Sun Kim | Social Network Computing Center, Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, Seoul National University


This paper constructs a social well-being indicator and empirically examines how social well-being is distributed across the population in Korea. We also investigate which factors

are likely to contribute to higher social well-being. After reviewing previous research, we figure out that social well-being consists of three dimensions; personal, relational, and societal, and a balance between individual resources and life events or challenges people face can impact the level of social well-being. We emphasize conditional factors of social quality, such as social cohesion, socio-economic security, social inclusion, and empowerment, play critical role in the perception of social well-being. The results confirm that life experiences in the social environment contribute to the level of social well-being. Trust gap, risk experiences, and discrimination experiences, which reflect low level of social cohesion, socio-economic security, and social inclusion respectively, reduce social well-being significantly. On the other hand, experiences of community participation, which show high level of social empowerment, raise well-being level substantially. What is noticeable is that those stressful life experiences are heavily concentrated on those who don’t have enough resources to cope with. The vulnerable in terms of social wellbeing are those who are deprived in multiple ways. They have lack of money, lack of education, no job, and lack of social network. Therefore, policy intervention needs to target those vulnerable individuals preferentially and to enhance their social well-being by maximizing their psychological and social resources as well as economic resources.


Keywords: social well-being, the vulnerable, social quality, cohesion, security, inclusion, empowerment


The Senshu Social Well-being Review No.3 (2016)