Social Indicators Research

, Volume 115, Issue 1, pp 203–222 | Cite as

Work-Related Demands Emanating from Social Change and Their Relation to Trait-Like and Occasion-Specific Aspects of Subjective Well-Being

  • Astrid KörnerEmail author
  • Rainer K. Silbereisen
  • Uwe Cantner


Following current macro-level social change people are increasingly confronted with new demands encompassing perceived uncertainties concerning their job and career prospects. Studies utilizing concurrent assessments showed that perceiving a high accumulation (“load”) of such demands is negatively related to individuals’ subjective well-being. Without further evidence the interpretation of the direction of these effects, however, is equivocal. Based on the concept that individuals have a rather stable trait-like level of subjective well-being from which they may vary when confronted with changes of the external ecology, the current study examined the relationship between the reported load of demands and subjective well-being assessed as general life satisfaction and average satisfaction in domains of life (i.e., family, work, finances, and leisure). We expected that a higher load of demands corresponds to a temporary decline in well-being, while at the same time differences in the stable trait-like level of well-being account for differences in the reported demand load. For the purpose of our study, we analyzed three annual waves of assessment of German adults aged between 18 and 43 years (N = 488). Utilizing a trait-state-occasion model, we separated trait-like aspects of well-being from occasion-specific deviations. Overall, our results confirmed our expectation that effects indeed run in both directions. The higher the reported load of work-related demands, the more respondents’ well-being negatively deviated from the stable trait-like level. Beyond that a higher trait-like level of well-being corresponded to a lower demand load. Both effects revealed almost equal strength and remained stable after controlling for participants’ employment status, family status, and educational attainment.


Social change Work-related uncertainties Subjective well-being Life satisfaction Trait-state-occasion model 



This study was supported by a grant from the German Research Council (Project “Psychosocial resources and coping with social change,” PI Rainer K. Silbereisen) as part of the Collaborative Research Center SFB 580 “Social developments in post-socialist societies: Discontinuity, tradition, structural transformation.” The first author received a scholarship of the Jena Graduate School “Human Behaviour in Social and Economic Change” (GSBC), funded by the Federal Program “ProExzellenz” of Thuringia.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Astrid Körner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rainer K. Silbereisen
    • 1
  • Uwe Cantner
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Developmental Psychology and Center for Applied Developmental ScienceFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany
  3. 3.Department of Marketing and ManagementUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

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