Social Indicators Research

, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 305–318 | Cite as

Socioeconomic Inequality and Life Satisfaction in Late Childhood and Adolescence: A Moderated Mediation Model

  • Rong Zou
  • Gengfeng Niu
  • Wu Chen
  • Cuiying Fan
  • Yuan Tian
  • Xiaojun Sun
  • Zongkui ZhouEmail author


An increasing number of studies have established an association between socioeconomic inequality and life satisfaction, but the underlying mediating and moderating mechanisms of this association have not been fully identified. The present study investigated the effect of family socioeconomic status (SES) on life satisfaction in late childhood and adolescence; examined the mediating effect of optimism in the association between family SES and life satisfaction; and tested whether this mediating process varied across late childhood and adolescence. A sample of 552 Chinese children in late childhood (M age = 10.73 years, SD = 0.96) and 637 Chinese adolescents (M age = 14.71 years, SD = 1.60) was recruited to complete questionnaires regarding family SES, optimism, and life satisfaction. Results indicated that socioeconomic inequality was associated with life satisfaction in Chinese children and adolescents. Moreover, optimism partially mediated the relation between family SES and life satisfaction, and developmental period moderated this mediation effect. Specifically, the mediation effect was found in adolescence, but not in late childhood, indicating an adolescent-emergent model (Chen et al. in Psychol Bull 128(2):295–329, 2002; in Soc Sci Med 62(9):2161–2170, 2006). The meaning and implications of socioeconomic inequality in different development periods and applied considerations to improve life satisfaction in late childhood and adolescence are discussed.


Life satisfaction Socioeconomic inequality Optimism Moderated mediation model Chinese children and adolescents 



This study was supported by Major Program of the National Social Science Foundation of People’s Republic of China [Grant Number 11&ZD151], the Research Program Funds of the Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment toward Basic Education Quality at Beijing Normal University [Grant Number 2016-04-003-BZK01], and the Research Program Funds of the Collaborative Innovation Center for Balanced Development between Informatization and Basic Education at Central China Normal University [Grant Number 2015017].

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rong Zou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gengfeng Niu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wu Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cuiying Fan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yuan Tian
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiaojun Sun
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zongkui Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior (Central China Normal University)Ministry of EducationWuhan CityPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of PsychologyCentral China Normal UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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