Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1031–1051 | Cite as

Testing the Relationship Between Parents’ and Their Children’s Subjective Well-Being

  • Ferran CasasEmail author
  • Germà Coenders
  • Mònica González
  • Sara Malo
  • Irma Bertran
  • Cristina Figuer
Research Paper


Casas et al. (J Happiness Stud 9(2):197–205, 2008) found no significant relationship between paired answers given by parents and their 12–16-year-old children (N = 266) for a single-item scale on overall life satisfaction (OLS). However, a significant, but low (.19) parent–child relationship did appear for the PWI multi-item scale. Overall, children reported higher subjective well being than parents. In this article, we present the results obtained from confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), using more scales and a bigger sample (N = 1,250) of paired parents and children. The study uses three multiple-item scales: the PWI, the SWLS and the BMSLSS, and six single-item scales: the OLS, two items from Russell’s scale on core affects, one on overall happiness, Fordyce’s happiness item and the optional item of the BMSLSS on overall life satisfaction. Separate CFA for each of the 3 multi-item scales showed good fit statistics. In order to check comparability between parents and children, we tested equal loading and intercept constraints. The models with restricted loadings fit only for the PWI and BMSLSS, but none of the models with restricted intercepts fit. Therefore, it was only possible to estimate two factor correlations for parents and their children, both very low (.16 for the PWI, .18 for BMSLSS), and it was not possible to compare factor means. When correlating scores from the 6 single-item scales for parents and children, they were all found to be significant but very low. As regards items from the multiple-item scales for parents and children many correlations are positive and significant, although very low, but others are non significant. The means of some items were substantially higher for children than for parents. For some items, differences were minor, non-significant or even reversed. All of the results suggest that parents’ well-being is very weakly related to their own children’s well-being, in spite of socialization, common material welfare and genetic influences. However, one outstanding result is that in our Catalan sample, parents’ well-being seems to have a greater influence on their female child’s well-being than on their male child’s.


Subjective well-being Parents Parent–child Adolescents PWI SWLS BMSLSS Happiness Life satisfaction Positive psychology Psychological assessment Subjective indicators CFA Gender 



The Spanish research presented here has been funded by the Spanish Government’s Ministry of Science and Education, with reference number SEJ2007-62813/PS.


  1. Arbuckle, J. L. (2010). IBM SPSS ® Amos 19 User’s Guide. Crawfordville, FL: Amos Development Corporation.Google Scholar
  2. Batista-Foguet, J. M., & Coenders, G. (2000). Modelos de ecuaciones estructurales. Madrid: La Muralla.Google Scholar
  3. Brannick, M. T. (1995). Critical comments on applying covariance structure modeling. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 16, 201–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Browne, M. W., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In K. A. Bollen & J. S. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equation models (pp. 136–162). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Byrne, B. M. (2010). Structural equation modeling with AMOS. Basic concepts, applications and programming (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rogers, W. L. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Casas, F. (2008). Children’s cultures and new technologies: A gap between generations? Some reflections from the Spanish context. In A. James & A. James (Eds.), European childhoods: Cultures, politics and childhood in Europe (pp. 61–81). Houndmills, Hampshire: Palmgrave MacMillan.Google Scholar
  8. Casas, F., Coenders, G., Cummins, R. A., Gonzàlez, M., Figuer, C., & Malo, S. (2008). Does subjective well-being show a relationship between parents and their children? Journal of Happiness Studies, 9(2), 197–205. Published on-line in 2007: Scholar
  9. Casas, F., Sarriera, J. C., Alfaro, J., González, M., Malo, S., Bertran, I., et al. (2011). The personal well-being index: Its functioning with 2 new items in 3 samples of 12–16 years-old adolescents in 3 countries. Social Indicators Research. doi:  10.1007/s11205-011-9781-1.
  10. Cheung, G. W., & Rensvold, R. B. (2002). Evaluating goodness-of-fit indexes for testing measurement invariance. Structural Equation Modeling, 9, 233–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  12. Cummins, R. A. (2003). Normative life satisfaction: Measurement issues and a homeostatic model. Social Indicators Research, 64, 225–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cummins, R. A., & Cahill, J. (2000). Avances en la comprensión de la calidad de vida subjetiva. Intervención Psicosocial, 9(2), 185–198.Google Scholar
  14. Cummins, R. A., Eckersley, R., Lo, S. K., Okerstrom, E., Hunter, B., & Davern, M. (2003). Australian unity wellbeing index: Cumulative psychometric record. Report 9.0. Australian Centre on quality of life.
  15. Cummins, R. A., Eckersley, R., van Pallant, J., Vugt, J., & Misajon, R. (2003). Developing a national index of subjective well-being: The Australian unity well-being index. Social Indicators Research, 64, 159–190. Updated in:
  16. Cummins, R. A., & Gullone, E. (2000). Why we should not use 5-point Likert scales: The case for subjective quality of life measurement. In Proceedings 2nd international conference on quality of life in cities (pp. 74–93). Singapore: National University of Singapore.Google Scholar
  17. Cummins, R. A., & Lau, A .L. D. (2005). Personal wellbeing indexSchool children (PWI-SC) (English) (3rd ed.). Manual. Reviewed May 2006.
  18. Diener, E., Emmons, R., Larsen, R., & Smith, H. L. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fordyce, M. W. (1988). A review of research on the happiness measures: A sixty second index of happiness and mental health. Social Indicators Research, 20(4), 355–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Huebner, E. S., Seligson, J. L., Valois, R. F., & Suldo, S. M. (2006). A review of the brief multidimensional students’ life satisfaction scale. Social Indicators Research, 79, 477–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. International Wellbeing Group (2006). Personal wellbeing indexadultmanual (4th version). Melbourne: Australian centre on quality of life, Deakin University.
  22. Kelloway, E. K. (1995). Structural equation modeling in perspective. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 16, 215–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lau, A. L. D., Cummins, R. A., & McPherson, W. (2005). An investigation into the cross-cultural equivalence of the personal well-being index. Social Indicators Research, 72, 403–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lykken, D., & Tellegen, A. (1996). Happiness is a stochastic phenomenon. Psychological Science, 7(3), 186–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Meredith, W. (1993). Measurement invariance, factor analysis and factorial invariance. Psychometrika, 58, 525–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). Review of the satisfaction with life scale. Psychological Assessment, 5(2), 164–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rosenthal, R. (1991). Meta-analytic procedures for social research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Roysamb, E., Tambs, K., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Neale, M. C., & Harris, J. R. (2003). Happiness and health: Environmental and genetic contributions to the relationship between subjective wellbeing, perceived health, and somatic illness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(6), 1136–1146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Russell, J. A. (2003). Core affects and the psychological construction of emotion. Psychological Review, 110(1), 145–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Seligson, J. L., Huebner, E. S., & Valois, R. F. (2003). Preliminary validation of the brief multidimensional student’s life satisfaction scale. Social Indicators Research, 61, 121–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Seligson, J. L., Huebner, E. S., & Valois, R. F. (2005). Validation of a brief life satisfaction scale with elementary school students. Social Indicators Research, 73, 355–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tomyn, A. J., & Cummins, R. A. (2011). The subjective wellbeing of high-school students: Validating the personal wellbeing index—School children. Social Indicators Research, 101, 405–374.Google Scholar
  33. Veenhoven, R. (1994). El estudio de la satisfacción con la vida. Intervención Psicosocial, III(9), 87–116; IV(10), 125–127.Google Scholar
  34. Veenhoven, R. (2009). Medidas de felicidad nacional bruta. Intervención Psicosocial, 18(3), 279–299.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ferran Casas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Germà Coenders
    • 1
  • Mònica González
    • 1
  • Sara Malo
    • 1
  • Irma Bertran
    • 1
  • Cristina Figuer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut de Recerca sobre Qualitat de VidaUniversitat de Girona (UdG)GironaSpain

Personalised recommendations