Contribution of Natural and Economic Capital to Subjective Well-Being: Empirical Evidence from a Small-Scale Society in Kodagu (Karnataka), India

Document Type


Publication Date




Subjective well-being is determined by several types of sources of satisfaction, defined as forms of capitals. Most of research has been focused on the links between economic capital and well-being, neglecting the contribution of other forms of capital as source of satisfaction. Here, we bring natural capital into the equation and explore the relations between economic and natural capital and subjective well-being. We approach well-being as a multidimensional concept and then focus on three of its dimensions: subsistence, security, and reproduction and care. Working with tribal communities from Kodagu (Karnataka, India), we found positive associations between economic and natural capital and subjective well-being. Nevertheless, the two types of capitals differed on their relative contribution to (a) overall subjective well-being and (b) the three selected dimensions. Natural capital can be more important than economic capital in fulfilling human well-being. Findings support ongoing calls for explicitly incorporating ecological assets and ecosystem services in the design of policies oriented to measure and improve well-being.