Social Indicators Research

, Volume 110, Issue 2, pp 703–719 | Cite as

Happiness Among Adolescent Students in Thailand: Family and Non-Family Factors

  • Rossarin Soottipong Gray
  • Aphichat Chamratrithirong
  • Umaporn Pattaravanich
  • Pramote Prasartkul


This paper explores family and non-family factors contributing to happiness among students aged 15–18 in Thailand. Data come from the Social and Cultural Situation and Mental Health Survey (n = 905). Based on regression analysis, family factors are more important than non- family factors in explaining the variations in adolescents’ happiness. Regarding the family domain, those who reported sufficient time spent with family members and highest level of love and connectedness were happiest. Those living in a two-parent family were happiest, followed by those living with a married father or a married mother (in a single parent family). Those living in an unmarried mother family were unhappiest, controlling for household economic status. These findings highlight the important role of a father in a country with a matrilocal family system. Regarding non-family factors, adolescents with the highest school attendance, highest self-esteem, and highest economic status who also regularly participated in extracurricular activities were happiest. Adolescents who were older and who had to do chores regularly tended to be less happy than their peers.


Adolescent student happiness Family cohesion Family relationships Family structure Non-family factors 



This project is under the Program on Mental Health Promotion for the Well-Being of Thai People funded by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation. The authors would like to thank Dr. Prawate Tantipiwatanaskul, the manager of the Program, for his support and Dr. Peter Xenos for his suggestions on data analysis.


  1. Amato, P. R. (2001). Children of divorce in 1990 s: An updated of the Amato and Keith (1991) meta-analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 15, 355–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aseltine, R. H., Gore, S., & Colten, M. E. (1998). The co-occurrence of depression and substance use in late adolescence. Development and Psychopathology, 10, 549–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bengtson, V. L. (2001). Beyond the nuclear family: The increasing importance of multigenerational bonds. Journal of Marriage of Family, 63, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bryceson, D., & Vuorela, U. (2002). Transnational families in the twenty-first century. In D. Bryceson & U. Vuorela (Eds.), The transnational family: New European frontiers and global networks (pp. 3–29). Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  5. Cavanagh, S. (2008). Family structure history and adolescent adjustment. Journal of Family Issues, 29, 944–979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chan, Y. K., & Lee, R. P. L. (2006). Network size, social support and happiness in later life: A comparative study of Beijing and Hong Kong. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 87–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Crockett, L. J., Eggebeen, D. j., & Hawkins, A. J. (1993). Fathers’ presence and young children’s behavioral and cognitive adjustment. Journal of Family Issues, 14, 355–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Hunter, J. (2003). Happiness in everyday life: The uses of experience sampling. Journal of Happiness Studies, 4, 185–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Curran, S. R., Garip, F., Chung, C., & Tangchonlatip, K. (2005). The effects of gender on migration in Thailand. Social Forces, 84, 225–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dalgas-Pelish, P. (2006). Effects of a self-esteem intervention program on school-age children. Pediatric Nursing, 32(4), 341–348.Google Scholar
  11. Deleire, T., & Kalil, A. (2002). Good things come in threes: Single-parent multigenerational family structure and adolescent adjustment. Demography, 39, 393–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Demo, D. H., & Acock, A. C. (1996). Family structure, family process, and adolescents’ well-being. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 6, 457–488.Google Scholar
  13. Department of Local Administration. (2007). Compilation of registration statistics 2007. Accessed 5 March 2010.
  14. Easterlin, R. A. (2001). Income and happiness: Towards a unified theory. Economic Journal, 111, 465–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Easterlin, R. A. (2006). Life cycle happiness and its sources: Intersections of psychology, economics and demography. Journal of Economic Psychology, 27, 463–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eshbaugh, E. M. (2008). Perceptions of family relationship factors and depressive symptoms in adolescents: What roles do parents and gender play? Journal of Child and Family Studies, 17, 127–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Feldman, S. S., Rubenstein, J. L., & Rubin, C. (1988). Depressive effect and restraint in early adolescents: Relationships with family structure, family process and friendship support. Journal of Early Adolescence, 8, 279–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Frey, B., & Slutzer, A. (2002). Happiness and economics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gilman, R. (2001). The relationship between life satisfaction, social interest, and frequency of extracurricular activities among adolescent students. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 30, 749–767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ginther, D. K., & Pollak, R. A. (2004). Family structure and children’s educational outcomes: blended families, stylized facts, and descriptive regressions. Demography, 41, 671–696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gray, R. S., & Chamratrithirong, A. (2009). Thailand. In E. B. Palmore, F. Whittington, & S. Kunkel (Eds.), International handbook on aging (pp. 563–578). Santa Barbara, California: LLC: ABC_CLIO.Google Scholar
  22. Gray, R. S., Kramanon, R., & Thapsuwan, S. (2008a). The determinants of happiness among Thai people: Some evidence from Chai Nat and Kanchanaburi. Thammasat Economic Journal, 26, 72–87.Google Scholar
  23. Gray, R. S., Rukumnuaykit, P., Kittisuksathit, S., & Thongthai, V. (2008b). Inner happiness among Thai elderly. Journal of Cross Cultural Gerontology, 23, 211–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gray, R., Tantipiwatanaskul, P., & Suwannoppakao, R. (2010). Happiness among Thai people: Living a virtuous life, spirituality and self-esteem. Journal of Mental Health of Thailand, 18, 71–85.Google Scholar
  25. Haire, E. C., Moore, K. A., Garrett, S. B., Ling, T., & Clieveland, K. (2008). The continued importance of parent-adolescent relationships during late adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 18, 187–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harry, J. (1976). Evolving sources of happiness for men over the life cycle. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 38, 289–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hofferth, S. L., & Anderson, K. G. (2003). Are all dads equal? Biology versus marriage as a basis for paternal investment. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 65, 213–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Huebner, E. S. (1994). Preliminary development and validation of a multidimensional life scale for children. Psychological Assessment, 6, 149–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Huebner, E. S., Drane, W., & Valois, R. F. (2000). Levels of demographic correlates of adolescent life satisfaction reports. School Psychology International, 21, 281–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ingersoll-Dayton, B., Saengtienchai, C., Kespichayawattana, J., & Aungsuroch, Y. (2004). Measuring psychological well-being: Insights from Thai elders. The Gerontologist, 44, 596–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jampaklay, A. (2006). Parental absence and children’s school enrollment. Asian Population Studies, 2, 93–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jongudomkarn, D., & Camfield, L. (2006). Exploring the quality of life of people in northeastern and southern Thailand. Social Indicators Research, 78, 489–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kandal, D. (1990). Parenting styles, drug use, and children’s adjustment of young adults. Journal of Marriage and Family, 52, 183–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kemp, J. H. (1982). Kinship and locality in Hua Kok. Journal of Siam Society, 70, 101–113.Google Scholar
  35. Kemp, J. (1991). The dialectics of village and state in modern Thailand. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 22, 312–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kennedy, J. F., & Keeney, V. T. (1988). The extended family revisited: Grandparents rearing grandchildren. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 19, 26–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kinsella, K., & Phillips, D. R. (2005). Global aging: The challenge of success. Population Bulletin, 60, 5–42.Google Scholar
  38. Knodel, J., Chamratrithirong, A., & Debavalaya, N. (1987). Thailand’s reproductive revolution rapid fertility decline in a third-world setting. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  39. Knodel, J., Kespichayawattana, J., Wiwatwanich, S., & Saengtienchai, C. (2007). Migration and intergenerational solidarity: Evidence from rural Thailand. Bangkok: UNFPA Thailand.Google Scholar
  40. Kohler, H., Behrman, J. R., & Skytthe, R. (2005). Partner + children = happiness? The effects of partnerships and fertility on well-being. Population and Development Review, 31, 407–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kreider, R. M. (2008). Living arrangement of children: 2004. Suitland-Silver Hill: U.S Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S Census Bureau.Google Scholar
  42. Kwan, Y.-K. (2008). Life satisfaction and family structure among adolescents in Hong Kong. Social Indicators Research, 86, 59–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kwan, Y.-K. (2010). Life satisfaction and self-assessed health among adolescents in Hong Kong. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11, 383–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: Lessons from a new science. New York: The Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  45. Lu, L., & Lin, Y. Y. (1998). Family roles and happiness in adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 25, 195–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mason, K. O. (1992). Family change and support of the elderly in Asia: What do we know? Asia Pacific Population, 7, 13–32.Google Scholar
  47. McKeown, R. E., Garrison, C. Z., & Jackson, K. L. (1997). Family structure and cohesion, and depressive symptoms in adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 7, 267–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McLanahan, S., & Sandefur, G. (1994). Living with a single parent: What hurts, what helps?. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  49. McLoyd, V. (1998). Socioeconomic disadvantage and child development. American Psychologist, 53, 185–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nagar, S., Sharma, S., & Chopra, G. (2008). Self- esteem among rural girls. Anthropologist, 10, 151–154.Google Scholar
  51. Noller, P. (1994). Personal relationships during adolescence. In R. Montemayor, G. R. Adams, & T. P. Gullotta (Eds.), Advance in adolescent development: An annual book series (pp. 37–77). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  52. Park, N., Huebner, E. S., Laughlin, J. E., Valois, R. F., & Gilman, R. (2004). A cross-cultural comparison of the dimensions of child and adolescent life satisfaction reports. Social Indicators Research, 66, 61–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pattaravanich, U., Williams, L. B., Lyson, T. A., & Archavanitkul, K. (2005). Inequality and educational investment in Thai children. Rural Sociology, 70, 561–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Potter, S. H. (1992). Family life in a northern Thai village: a study in the structural significance of women. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  55. Proctor, C. L., Linley, P. A., & Maltby, J. (2009). Youth life satisfaction: A literature review. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 583–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Putthisri, S., & Lotrakul, M. (2006). Adolescent suicides in Thailand during 1996–2003. Journal of Psychiatric Association of Thailand, 51, 21–28.Google Scholar
  57. Raphael, D. (1996). Determinants of health of North-American adolescents: evolving definitions, recent findings, and proposed research agenda. Journal of Adolescent Health, 19, 6–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rujiradarporn, N., & Trangkasombat, U. (2009). Depression in senior high school students in Bangkok Metropolis. Journal of Psychiatric Association of Thailand, 54, 337–346.Google Scholar
  59. Sastre, M. T. M., & Ferriere, G. (2000). Family decline and the subjective well-being of adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 49, 69–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Seligson, J. L., Huebner, E. S., & Valois, R. F. (2003). Preliminary validation of brief multidimensional students’ life satisfaction scale (BMSLSS). Social Indicators Research, 61, 121–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Siyez, D. M. (2008). Adolescent self-esteem, problem behaviors, and perceived social support in Turkey. Social Behavior and Personality, 36, 973–984.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. (2001). Adolescent development. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 83–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Storksen, I., Roysamb, E., Holman, T. L., & Tambs, K. (2006). Adolescent adjustment and well-being: Effects of parental divorce and distress. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 47, 75–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Suldo, S. M., & Huebner, E. S. (2004). Does life satisfaction moderate the effects of stressful life events on psychopathological behavior during adolescence? School Psychology Quarterly, 19, 93–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sun, Y., & Li, Y. (2002). Children’s well–being during parents’ marital dissolution process: A pooled time-series analysis. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 472–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Swenson, R. R., & Prelaw, H. M. (2005). Ethnic identity, self-esteem, and perceived efficacy as mediators of the relation of supportive parenting to psychosocial outcomes among urban adolescents. Journal of adolescence, 28, 465–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Uchida, Y., Norasakkunkit, V., Kitiyama, S. (2004). Cultural constructions of happiness: Theory and empirical evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 223–239.Google Scholar
  68. Veenhoven, R. (1997). Advances in understanding happiness. Revue Quebecoise de Psychologie 18, 29–74. Accessed 20 February 2010.
  69. Veenhoven, R. (2009). World database of happiness. Happiness scale interval study Accessed 28 August 2010.
  70. Whitesell, N. R., Mitchell, C. M., & Spicer, P. (2009). A longitudinal study of self-esteem, cultural identity, and academic success among American Indian Adolescents. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 15(1), 38–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. World Bank Group. (2010). Thailand social monitor 2009: Towards a competitive higher education system in a global economy. Accessed 17 June 2010.
  72. Yeoh, B. S. A. (2009). Commentary making sense of “Asian” families in the age of migration. Asian Population Studies, 5, 1–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Zimmer, Z. (2003). A further discussion on revisiting the classification of household composition among elderly people. Journal of Cross Cultural Gerontology, 18, 247–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Zullig, K. J., Valois, R. F., Huebner, E. S., & Drane, J. W. (2005). Association among family structure, demographics, and adolescent perceived life satisfaction. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 14, 195–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rossarin Soottipong Gray
    • 1
  • Aphichat Chamratrithirong
    • 1
  • Umaporn Pattaravanich
    • 1
  • Pramote Prasartkul
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Population and Social ResearchMahidol UniversityNakhon PathomThailand

Personalised recommendations