Social science and social policy increasingly recognise that people’s family, friendship and other networks matter for their health and well-being. But it remains unclear why networks are important and what kinds of positive and negative effects they might have. Research has also been confined to developed counties. We develop a new theory of network effects on wellbeing and examine it in Australia, China and the UK. We will contribute to the social scientific understanding of networks and their effects in developed and developing societies and will also inform policy and program design to delivery in areas relating to individual and community well-being.


  • To present a new theory that explains how and why social networks affect subjective wellbeing (SWB) and addresses weaknesses in earlier research
  • To undertake a new Australian survey to generate high quality data not previously available by using valid and reliable measures of social networks and SWB
  • To compare Australia, UK and China to advance understanding of how the association of social networks and SWB varies in developed and developing societies

Project details

Duration: January 2013–January 2015

Partners: La Trobe University; Xi'an Jiaotong University

Funding source: ARC Discovery Project

Contact: Prof Mark Western (