Nonprofits: A Public Policy Tool for the Promotion of Community Subjective Well-being

Robert W. Ressler, Pamela Paxton, Kristopher Velasco, Lilla Pivnick, Inbar Weiss, Johannes C. Eichstaedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Looking to supplement common economic indicators, politicians and policymakers are increasingly interested in how to measure and improve the subjective well-being of communities. Theories about nonprofit organizations suggest that they represent a potential policy-amenable lever to increase community subjective well-being. Using longitudinal cross-lagged panel models with IRS and Twitter data, this study explores whether communities with higher numbers of nonprofits per capita exhibit greater subjective well-being in the form of more expressions of positive emotion, engagement, and relationships. We find associations, robust to sample bias concerns, between most types of nonprofit organizations and decreases in negative emotions, negative sentiments about relationships, and disengagement. We also find an association between nonprofit presence and the proportion of words tweeted in a county that indicate engagement. These findings contribute to our theoretical understanding of why nonprofit organizations matter for community-level outcomes and how they should be considered an important public policy lever.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)822-838
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Marketing
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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