Between wellness and fairness: The mediating role of autonomous human choice and social capital in OECD countries

Salvatore Di Martino, Michael P. Scarpa, Isaac Prilleltensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Theoretical arguments and empirical evidence have been provided in the literature for the role of fairness in wellness. In this paper, we explore the role of two potential mediating variables: autonomous human choice and social capital. Using aggregated panel data across countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), we compared the OECD Social Justice Index (SJI) with data on life satisfaction to test whether fairness has direct and indirect effects on wellness. Results from a series of Manifest Path Analyses with time as fixed effect, support the hypothesis that the OECD SJI is directly linked to country-level life satisfaction, additionally revealing that its indirect effect operates primarily through people's autonomous choices in life and their country's level of social capital. Our results contribute to two distinct bodies of knowledge. With respect to community psychology, the findings offer empirical evidence for the synergistic effect of personal, relational, and collective factors in well-being. With respect to the impact of economic inequality on wellness, we extend the literature by using social justice as a more comprehensive measure. Limitations and recommendations for future studies are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Community Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • autonomous human choice
  • GDP
  • happiness
  • life satisfaction
  • Manifest Path Analysis
  • social capital
  • social justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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