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Childhood adversity and adulthood happiness: Evidence from Japan


  • Oshio, Takashi
  • Umeda, Maki
  • Kawakami, Norito


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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  • Oshio, Takashi & Umeda, Maki & Kawakami, Norito, 2011. "Childhood adversity and adulthood happiness: Evidence from Japan," CIS Discussion paper series 529, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:cisdps:529

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
    2. 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.
    3. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2007.120253_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Takashi Oshio & Shinpei Sano & Miki Kobayashi, 2010. "Child Poverty as a Determinant of Life Outcomes: Evidence from Nationwide Surveys in Japan," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 99(1), pages 81-99, October.
    6. 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.
    7. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. 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.
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    Childhood adversity; adulthood subjective well-being; mediation analysis; Japan;

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