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Childhood adversity and adulthood happiness: Evidence from Japan

  • Oshio, Takashi
  • Umeda, Maki
  • Kawakami, Norito
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    In this study, we examined the impact of childhood interpersonal adversity on adulthood subjective well-being, with a focus on the mediating and moderating effects of social support and socioeconomic status (SES). We concentrated on parental maltreatment (abuse and neglect) and bullying in school as childhood adversity variables and on perceived happiness, life satisfaction, and self-rated health as adulthood subjective well-being measures. Our empirical analysis was based on micro data from a survey in municipalities in and around the Tokyo metropolitan area (N = 3,292). We obtained four key findings. First, the experience of childhood adversity had a substantial negative impact on adulthood subjective well-being. Second, social support and SES significantly mediated the impact of childhood adversity. Third, a large proportion of the impact of childhood interpersonal adversity was unexplained by social support and SES mediation effects. Fourth, no social support or SES variable moderated the impact of childhood interpersonal adversity. Hence, we can conclude that childhood interpersonal adversity affects adulthood subjective well-being in a relatively independent manner rather than being substantially mediated or moderated by social support or SES. Accordingly, social policies should aim at reducing incidents of childhood maltreatment and bullying in addition to helping people enhance levels of social support and SES in later life.

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    Paper provided by Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University in its series CIS Discussion paper series with number 529.

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    Length: 29 p.
    Date of creation: Nov 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hit:cisdps:529
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    1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
    3. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
    4. Takashi Oshio & Shinpei Sano & Miki Kobayashi, 2010. "Child Poverty as a Determinant of Life Outcomes: Evidence from Nationwide Surveys in Japan," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 99(1), pages 81-99, October.
    5. Takashi Oshio & Shinpei Sano & Miki Kobayashi, 2009. "Child poverty as a determinant of life outcomes:Evidence from nationwide surveys in Japan," Discussion Papers 0911, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.
    6. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
    7. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Lindsay M. Pitzer & Karen L. Fingerman, 2010. "Psychosocial Resources and Associations Between Childhood Physical Abuse and Adult Well-being," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 65(4), pages 425-433.
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