Childhood adversity and adulthood happiness: Evidence from Japan
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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