Family Functioning and Life Satisfaction and Happiness in South African Households
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Families form an integral part of society and in fostering individual well-being. Despite the acknowledged importance of family, the association between family functioning and individual well-being outcomes have remained unexplored in the current body of knowledge. This paper explores the association between family functioning and reported levels of life satisfaction and happiness in South Africa. The paper employs the Family Attachment and Changeability Index (FACI8) to measure family functioning, using data from the 2011 South African Social Attitudes Survey. Four measures of family functioning are utilised, namely the aggregate FACI8 scale, the attachment and changeability sub-scales, and family functioning type. Improvements in the level of family functioning as well as in the levels of attachment and changeability are positively associated with life satisfaction and happiness. In addition, individuals living in midrange or balanced family functioning types are more satisfied with life and happier compared to persons living in extremely or moderately dysfunctional families. The findings highlight the importance of supportive intra-family dynamics in fostering greater individual well-being. This in turn places emphasis on the investigation of likely correlates of family functioning and impact evaluations of family-focused social work interventions’ impact on family functioning as areas for future research.
KeywordsFamily functioning Family Subjective well-being South Africa
We thank an anonymous referee of this journal for very valuable comments and suggestions. Ben Roberts and participants at the second conference on the Microeconometric Analysis of South African Data (MASA 2012) in Durban, 12–13 November 2012, provided helpful suggestions. Financial assistance from Rhodes University (Grant #RC2013) is acknowledged. The financial support of Economic Research Southern Africa is also gratefully acknowledged.
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