Date: 26 Jan 2014

Grades – for Better or Worse? The Interplay of School Performance and Subjective Well-Being Among Boys and Girls

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We examine adolescents’ subjective well-being and investigate how it is related to school performance, gender and class origin. We hypothesize that school performance as indicated by school grades, is associated to subjective well-being in a gendered and class-dependent way. Two well-being dimensions are examined: “general subjective well-being” and “lack of psychosomatic symptoms.” We use a unique dataset combining survey data on subjective well-being with individual-level registry data on school achievement (school grades) among secondary school children in Sweden, in their lower teens, 12–16 years of age. Our results reveal a positive association between school grades and “general subjective well-being” – for both boys and girls. The conclusions on “lack of psychosomatic symptoms” show no association with grades for boys, while for girls this association is related to class origin. The findings emphasize the importance of taking gender into account when studying the association between subjective well-being and class origin among young people.