Social Indicators Research

, Volume 111, Issue 2, pp 603–615 | Cite as

Social Factors Explaining Children’s Subjective Happiness and Depressive Symptoms

  • Lotta Uusitalo-Malmivaara
  • Juhani E. Lehto


In this study happiness and depression in 737 12-year-old Finnish children were predicted by relationships with family members and other people, the number of close friends and their experiences of parental fighting and drinking. There were no differences in happiness between the genders, but the girls were more depressed than the boys. Low happiness was predicted by confidential family relationships and the number of close friends in both genders. High happiness was predicted by confidential family relationships and confidential relationships with other people in the girls, and confidential family relationships and the number of close friends in the boys. Depression was accounted for by poor family relationships, the number of close friends and parental fighting in the girls. In the boys, depression was related to poor family relationships and the number of close friends. Thus, the factors explaining happiness and depression were partly different and not necessarily interrelated. The results confirm that the correlates of well-being differ between the genders already at the age of 12 and the girls are more sensitive to family discord than the boys.


Happiness Depressive symptoms Family relationships Relationships with other people Number of friends Family dysfunction 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teacher Education, Special Education and Open UniversityUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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