Social Indicators Research

, Volume 117, Issue 3, pp 777–794 | Cite as

Life Satisfaction in Junior Secondary School Students in Hong Kong: A 3-Year Longitudinal Study

  • Daniel T. L. ShekEmail author
  • Ting Ting Liu


The present longitudinal study examined life satisfaction and the related socio-demographic, family, and positive youth development correlates in junior secondary school students in Hong Kong. Results showed that adolescents perceived life satisfaction decreased in their junior secondary school years. Several socio-demographic correlates of life satisfaction were identified from the results of mixed effects ANOVAs and multiple regression analyses: girls showed higher life satisfaction than did boys; adolescents in non-intact families had lower life satisfaction than did adolescents in intact families; adolescents experiencing economic disadvantage showed relatively lower life satisfaction. Results also showed that both family functioning and positive youth development had generally positive predictive relationships with adolescent life satisfaction over time.


Life satisfaction Adolescent Positive youth development Family functioning Longitudinal study 



The preparation for this paper and the Project P.A.T.H.S. were financially supported by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The authors wish to express their gratitude to the reviewers of the original manuscript for their constructive comments.


  1. Armsden, G. C., & Greenberg, M. T. (1987). The inventory of parent and peer attachment: Individual differences and their relationship to psychological well-being in adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 16(5), 427–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beavers, W. R., & Hampson, R. B. (1990). Successful families: Assessment and intervention. New York, NY: WW Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  3. Benson, P. L. (1997). All kids are our kids: What communities must do to raise caring and responsible children and adolescents. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  4. Bowen, M. (1974). Alcoholism as viewed through family systems theory and family psychotherapy. Annals New York Academy of Sciences, 233, 115–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Catalano, R. F., Berglund, M. L., Ryan, J. A. M., Lonczak, H. S., & Hawkins, J. D. (2004). Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. The Annals of the American Academy of Political Social Science, 591, 98–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cenkseven-Önder, F. (2012). The influence of decision-making styles on early adolescents’ life satisfaction. Social Behavior and Personality, 40(9), 1523–1536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chang, L., McBride-Chang, C., Stewart, S. M., & Au, E. (2003). Life satisfaction, self-concept, and family relations in Chinese adolescents and children. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 27(2), 182–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chekola, M. (2007). Happiness, rationality, autonomy and the good life. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8(1), 51–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112(1), 155–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cohen, O. (1994). Family functioning: Cohesion and adaptability of divorced fathers and mothers in raising their children. Family Therapy, 21(1), 35–45.Google Scholar
  11. Dahl, R. E. (2004). Adolescent brain development: A period of vulnerabilities and opportunities. Keynote address. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1021(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Damon, W. (2004). What is positive youth development? The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591, 13–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Demo, D. H., & Acock, A. C. (1996). Family structure, family process, and adolescent well-being. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 6(4), 457–488.Google Scholar
  14. Diener, E., & Diener, M. (1995). Cross-cultural correlates of life satisfaction and self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68(4), 653–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Epstein, N. B., Bishop, D., Ryan, C., Miller, I., & Keitner, G. (1993). The McMaster model view of healthy family functioning. In F. Walsh (Ed.), Normal family processes (pp. 138–160). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  17. Erikson, E. (1963). Childhood and society. New York, NY: WW Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  18. Evans, G. W. (2004). The environment of childhood poverty. American Psychologist, 59(2), 77–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Frisch, M. B., Cornell, J., Villanueva, M., & Retzlaff, P. J. (1992). Clinical validation of the quality of life inventory: A measure of life satisfaction for use in treatment planning and outcome assessment. Psychological Assessment, 4(1), 92–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gebauer, J. E., Riketta, M., Broemer, P., & Maio, G. R. (2008). Pleasure and pressure based prosocial motivation: Divergent relations to subjective well-being. Journal of Research in Personality, 42(2), 399–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gilman, R., & Huebner, S. (2003). A review of life satisfaction research with children and adolescents. School Psychology Quarterly, 18(2), 192–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goldbeck, L., Schmitz, T. G., Besier, T., Herschbach, P., & Henrich, G. (2007). Life satisfaction decreases during adolescence. Quality of Life Reserach, 16(6), 969–979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Huebner, E. S. (1991). Correlates of life satisfaction in children. School Psychology Quarterly, 6(2), 103–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huebner, E. S. (2004). Research on assessment of life satisfaction of children and adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 66(1–2), 3–33.Google Scholar
  25. Hughes, E. K., & Gullone, E. (2008). Internalizing symptoms and disorders in families of adolescents: A review of family systems literature. Clinical Psychology Review, 28(1), 92–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kwan, Y. K. (2008). Life satisfaction and family structure among adolescents in Hong Kong. Social Indicators Research, 86(1), 59–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kwan, Y. K. (2010). Life satisfaction and self-assessed health among adolescents in Hong Kong. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11(3), 383–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Larson, R., & Richards, M. H. (1994). Divergent realities: The emotional lives of mothers, fathers, and adolescents. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  29. Laudet, A. B., & White, W. L. (2008). Recovery capital as prospective predictor of sustained recovery, life satisfaction, and stress among former poly-substance users. Substance Use and Misuse, 43(1), 27–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lee, M. Y., Law, C. K., & Tam, K. K. (1999). Parenthood and life satisfaction: A comparison of single- and dual-parent families in Hong Kong. International Social Work, 42(2), 139–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lerner, R. M., von Eye, A., Lerner, J. V., Lewin-Bizan, S., & Bowers, E. P. (2010). Special issue: Introduction: The meaning and measurement of thriving: A view of the issues. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(7), 707–719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Leung, C. Y. W., McBride-Chang, C., & Lai, B. P. Y. (2004). Relations among maternal parenting style, academic competence, and life satisfaction in Chinese early adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 24(2), 113–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Leung, J. P., & Zhang, L. W. (2000). Modelling life satisfaction of Chinese adolescents in Hong Kong. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 24(1), 99–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Levin, K. A., Dallago, L., & Currie, C. (2012). The association between adolescent life satisfaction, family structure, family affluence and gender differences in parent-child communication. Social Indicators Research, 106(2), 287–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Levin, K. A., Torsheim, T., Vollebergh, W., Richter, M., Davies, C. A., Schnohr, C. W., et al. (2011). National income and income inequality, family affluence and life satisfaction among 13 year old boys and girls: A multilevel study in 35 countries. Social Indicators Research, 104(2), 179–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ma, C. Q., & Huebner, E. S. (2008). Attachment relationships and adolescents’ life satisfaction: Some relationships matter more to girls than boys. Psychology in the Schools, 45(2), 177–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Marsh, H. W., Kong, C. K., & Hau, K. T. (2000). Longitudinal multilevel models of the big-fish-little-pond effect on academic self-concept: Counterbalancing contrast and reflected-glory effects in Hong Kong schools. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(2), 337–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Martin, K., Huebner, E. S., & Valois, R. F. (2008). Does life satisfaction predict victimization experiences in adolescence? Psychology in the Schools, 45(8), 705–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Milevsky, A., Schlechter, M., Netter, S., & Keehn, D. (2007). Maternal and paternal parenting styles in adolescents: Associations with self-esteem, depression and life-satisfaction. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 16(1), 39–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Minuchin, P. (1985). Families and individual development: Provocations from the field of family therapy. Child Development, 56(2), 289–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Morganti, J. B., Nehrke, M. F., Hulicka, I. M., & Cataldo, J. F. (1988). Lifespan differences in life satisfaction, self-concept, and locus of control. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 26(1), 45–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Neto, F., & Barros, J. (2007). Satisfaction with life among adolescents from Portuguese immigrant families in Switzerland. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 66(4), 215–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Olson, D., Russell, C. S., & Sprenkle, D. H. (1989). Circumplex model: Systemic assessment and treatment of families. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Pan, J. Y., Wong, D. F. K., Joubert, L., & Chan, C. L. W. (2008). The protective function of meaning of life on life satisfaction among Chinese students in Australia and Hong Kong: A cross-cultural comparative study. Journal of American College Health, 57(2), 221–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Park, N. (2004). The role of subjective well-being in positive youth development. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591(1), 25–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Park, N. (2005). Life satisfaction among Korean children and youth: A developmental perspective. School Psychology International, 26(2), 209–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Piko, B. F., & Hamvai, C. (2010). Parent, school and peer-related correlates of adolescents’ life satisfaction. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(10), 1479–1482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Proctor, C. L., Linley, P. A., & Maltby, J. (2009). Youth life satisfaction: A review of the literature. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(5), 583–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Salmela-Aro, K., & Tynkkynen, L. (2010). Trajectories of life satisfaction across the transition to post-compulsory education: Do adolescents follow different pathways? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(8), 870–881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Seligman, M. E. P. (1998). Building human strength: Psychology’s forgotten mission. APA Monitor, 29(1), 2.Google Scholar
  51. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Seligson, J. L., Huebner, E. S., & Valois, R. F. (2003). Preliminary validation of the brief multidimensional students’ life satisfaction scale (BMSLSS). Social Indicators Research, 61(2), 121–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Shek, D. T. L. (1998). A longitudinal study of the relations between parent-adolescent conflict and adolescent psychological well-being. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 159(1), 53–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Shek, D. T. L. (2002a). Assessment of family functioning Chinese adolescents: The Chinese Family Assessment Instrument. In N. N. Singh, T. Ollen-dick, & A. N. Singh (Eds.), International perspectives on child and adolescent mental health (pp. 297–316). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  55. Shek, D. T. L. (2002b). Chinese adolescents’ perceptions of family functioning: Personal, school-related, and family correlates. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 128(4), 358–380.Google Scholar
  56. Shek, D. T. L. (2002c). Family functioning and psychological well-being, school adjustment, and problem behavior in Chinese adolescents with and without economic disadvantage. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 163(4), 497–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Shek, D. T. L. (2005a). A longitudinal study of perceived family functioning and adolescent adjustment in Chinese adolescents with economic disadvantage. Journal of Family Issues, 26(4), 518–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Shek, D. T. L. (2005b). Perceived parental control and parent-child relational qualities in Chinese adolescents in Hong Kong. Sex Roles, 53(9–10), 635–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Shek, D. T. L. (2007). Intact and non-intact families in Hong Kong: Differences in perceived parental control processes, parent-child relational qualities, and adolescent psychological well-being. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 47(1–2), 157–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Shek, D. T. L. (2008). Economic disadvantage, perceived family life quality, and emotional well-being in Chinese adolescents: A longitudinal study. Social Indicators Research, 85(2), 169–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Shek, D. T. L. (2010a). Introduction: Quality of life of Chinese people in a changing world. Social Indicators Research, 95(3), 357–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Shek, D. T. L. (2010b). The spirituality of the Chinese people: A critical review. In M. H. Bond (Ed.), Oxford handbook of Chinese psychology (pp. 343–366). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Shek, D. T. L., Chan, Y. K., & Lee, P. (2005). Quality of life in the global context: A Chinese response. Social Indicators Research, 71(1), 1–10.Google Scholar
  64. Shek, D. T. L., & Lee, T. Y. (2007). Family life quality and emotional quality of life in Chinese adolescents with and without economic disadvantage. Social Indicators Research, 80(2), 393–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Shek, D. T. L., & Ma, C. M. S. (2010a). The Chinese Family Assessment Instrument (C-FAI): Hierarchical confirmatory factor analyses and factorial invariance. Social Indicators Research, 20(1), 112–123.Google Scholar
  66. Shek, D. T. L., & Ma, C. M. S. (2010b). Dimensionality of the Chinese positive youth development scale: Confirmatory factor analyses. Social Indicators Research, 98(1), 41–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Shek, D. T. L., Ma, H. K., & Sun, R. C. F. (2011). A brief overview of adolescent developmental problems in Hong Kong. The Scientific World Journal, 11, 2243–2256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Shek, D. T. L., Siu, A. M. H., & Lee, T. Y. (2007). The Chinese positive youth development scale: A validation study. Research on Social Work Practice, 17(3), 380–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Shek, D. T. L., & Yu, L. (2012). Longitudinal impact of the project P.A.T.H.S. on adolescent risk behavior: What happened after five years? Scientific World Journal. doi:  10.1100/2012/316029.
  70. Sheridan, S. M., & Gutkin, T. B. (2000). The ecology of school psychology: Examining and changing our paradigm for the 21st century. School Psychology Review, 29(4), 485–501.Google Scholar
  71. Suldo, S. M., & Huebner, E. S. (2004). The role of life satisfaction in the relationship between authoritative parenting dimensions and adolescent problem behavior. Social Indicators Research, 66(1–2), 165–195.Google Scholar
  72. Sun, R. C. F., & Shek, D. T. L. (2010). Life satisfaction, positive youth development, and problem behaviour among Chinese adolescents in Hong Kong. Social Indicators Research, 95(3), 455–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Sun, R. C. F., & Shek, D. T. L. (2012). Positive youth development, life satisfaction and problem behaviour among Chinese adolescents in Hong Kong: A replication. Social Indicators Research, 105(3), 541–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Thomson, E., Hanson, T. L., & McLanahan, S. S. (1994). Family structure and child well-being: Economic resources vs. parental behaviors. Social Forces, 73(1), 221–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Vecchio, G. M., Gerbino, M., Pastorelli, C., Del Bove, G., & Caprara, G. V. (2007). Multi-faceted self-efficacy beliefs as predictors of life satisfaction in late adolescence. Personality and Individual Differences, 43(7), 1807–1818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Weissberg, R. P., & O’ Brien, M. U. (2004). What works in school-based social and emotional learning programs for positive youth development. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591(1), 86–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Zullig, K. J., Ward, R. M., & Horn, T. (2006). The association between perceived spirituality, religiosity, and life satisfaction: The mediating role of self-rated health. Social Indicators Research, 79(2), 255–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied Social SciencesThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHunghomHong Kong

Personalised recommendations