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Piecing the jigsaw puzzle of adolescent happiness

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  • van de Wetering, E.J.
  • van Exel, N.J.A.
  • Brouwer, W.B.F.

Abstract

Happiness is increasingly recognized as a proxy for utility and therefore a valuable maximand for policy decisions. As a result many studies have investigated happiness and the associated determinants in both overall and specific life domains. Adolescent happiness, however, remains largely unexplored. The aim of this study is to explore the relative importance of happiness of young Dutch adolescents at home, school, and leisure, and their associations with a broad array of personal and context characteristics within each of these domains. We used data from a study which investigated adolescents' health behaviour in relation to their attitudes regarding health and lifestyle as well as their considerations and expectations regarding the future consequences of their behaviour (n = 1436). Variables were selected on the basis of findings in the literature or significant univariate Pearson correlations between the variable and domain-specific or overall happiness. The data was analysed using multiple hierarchical stepwise regressions. In line with international findings, most adolescents reported high levels of overall happiness with a mean score of 7.69 (SD = 1.23) on a scale from 0 to 10. Personal and context characteristics were associated with adolescent overall happiness either directly or indirectly, via domain-specific happiness. Happiness at home, at school, and during leisure hours contributed approximately equally to overall happiness but were associated with different characteristics. Finally, the results demonstrate that adolescents differentiate their happiness levels between life domains, which support the relevance of a multidimensional approach in happiness studies. This study provides additional insight over single-dimensional studies of happiness and a more comprehensive explanation of previously published findings.

Suggested Citation

  • van de Wetering, E.J. & van Exel, N.J.A. & Brouwer, W.B.F., 2010. "Piecing the jigsaw puzzle of adolescent happiness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 923-935, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:31:y:2010:i:6:p:923-935
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Carlsson, Fredrik & Lampi, Elina & Li, Wanxin & Martinsson, Peter, 2014. "Subjective well-being among preadolescents and their parents – Evidence of intergenerational transmission of well-being from urban China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 11-18.
    2. Owen, Ann L. & Handley-Miner, Isaac, 2015. "Race, Class, Gender, and the Happiness of College Students," MPRA Paper 67078, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Leonardo Becchetti & Fabio Pisani, 2014. "Family Economic Well-Being, and (Class) Relative Wealth: An Empirical Analysis of Life Satisfaction of Secondary School Students in Three Italian Cities," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 503-525, June.
    4. Belén López-Pérez & Janice Sánchez & Michaela Gummerum, 2016. "Children’s and Adolescents’ Conceptions of Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(6), pages 2431-2455, December.
    5. Leonardo Becchetti & Fabio Pisani, 2012. "Family money, relational life and (class) relative wealth:an empirical analysis on life satisfaction of secondary school students," Econometica Working Papers wp35, Econometica.
    6. Rice, Jessica L. & Tan, Tony Xing, 2017. "Youth psychiatrically hospitalized for suicidality: Changes in familial structure, exposure to familial trauma, family conflict, and parental instability as precipitating factors," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 79-87.
    7. Carlsson, Fredrik & Lampi, Elina & Li, Wanxin & Martinsson, Peter, 2011. "Subjective well-being among preadolescents - Evidence from urban China," Working Papers in Economics 500, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    8. Guven, Cahit, 2012. "Reversing the question: Does happiness affect consumption and savings behavior?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 701-717.
    9. M. Hussain, 2014. "The Robustness of High Danish National Happiness: A Temporal Cross-Country Analysis of Population Subgroups," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 118(2), pages 759-774, September.

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