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Piecing the jigsaw puzzle of adolescent happiness

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

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.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

Volume (Year): 31 (2010)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 923-935

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Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:31:y:2010:i:6:p:923-935
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