Advertisement

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
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgements

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.

References

  1. Abubakar, A., Van de Vijver, F. J., Suryani, A. O., Handayani, P., & Pandia, W. S. (2015). Perceptions of parenting styles and their associations with mental health and life satisfaction among urban Indonesian adolescents. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(9), 2680–2692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  3. Allik, J., Laidra, K., Realo, A., & Pullmann, H. (2004). Personality development from 12 to 18 years of age: Changes in mean levels and structure of traits. European Journal of Personality, 18(6), 445–462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrett, P. (1986). Factor comparison: An examination of three methods. Personality and Individual Differences, 7, 327–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bøe, T., Sivertsen, B., Heiervang, E., Goodman, R., Lundervold, A. J., & Hysing, M. (2014). Socioeconomic status and child mental health: The role of parental emotional well-being and parenting practices. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 42(5), 705–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boehm, J. K., Chen, Y., Williams, D. R., Ryff, C., & Kubzansky, L. D. (2015). Unequally distributed psychological assets: Are there social disparities in optimism, life satisfaction, and positive affect. PLoS ONE, 10(2), e0118066.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bosma, H., van de Mheen, H. D., & Mackenbach, J. P. (1999). Social class in childhood and general health in adulthood: Questionnaire study of contribution of psychological attributes. British Medical Journal, 318(7175), 18–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bradley, R. H., & Corwyn, R. F. (2002). Socioeconomic status and child development. Annual Review of Psychology, 53(1), 371–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1990). Origins and functions of positive and negative affect: A control-process view. Psychological Review, 97(1), 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (2014). Dispositional optimism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18(6), 293–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Catalano, R. F., Fagan, A. A., Gavin, L. E., Greenberg, M. T., Irwin, C. E., Ross, D. A., et al. (2012). Worldwide application of prevention science in adolescent health. The Lancet, 379(9826), 1653–1664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chen, E. (2012). Protective factors for health among low-socioeconomic-status individuals. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(3), 189–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chen, E., Martin, A. D., & Matthews, K. A. (2006). Socioeconomic status and health: Do gradients differ within childhood and adolescence? Social Science and Medicine, 62(9), 2161–2170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chen, E., & Matthews, K. A. (2001). Cognitive appraisal biases: An approach to understanding the relation between socioeconomic status and cardiovascular reactivity in children. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 23(2), 101–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chen, E., Matthews, K. A., & Boyce, W. T. (2002). Socioeconomic differences in children’s health: How and why do these relationships change with age? Psychological Bulletin, 128(2), 295–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chen, E., & Miller, G. E. (2012). “Shift-and-persist” strategies: Why being low in socioeconomic status isn’t always bad for health. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 135–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chen, E., & Miller, G. E. (2013). Socioeconomic status and health: Mediating and moderating factors. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9, 723–749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chen, W., Niu, G. F., Zhang, D. J., Fan, C. Y., Tian, Y., & Zhou, Z. K. (2016). Socioeconomic status and life satisfaction in Chinese adolescents: Analysis of self-esteem as a mediator and optimism as a moderator. Personality and Individual Differences, 95, 105–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chzhen, Y., Moor, I., Pickett, W., Toczydlowska, E., & Stevens, G. (2016). Family affluence and inequality in adolescent health and life satisfaction: Evidence from the HBSC study 20022014. (Innocenti Working Paper No. 2016-10). Florence: UNICEF Office of Research.Google Scholar
  20. Currie, C. E., Elton, R. A., Todd, J., & Platt, S. (1997). Indicators of socioeconomic status for adolescents: The WHO Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey. Health Education Research, 12(3), 385–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Currie, C., Molcho, M., Boyce, W., Holstein, B., Torsheim, T., & Richter, M. (2008). Researching health inequalities in adolescents: The development of the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) family affluence scale. Social Science and Medicine, 66(6), 1429–1436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Currie, C., Zanotti, C., Morgan, A., Currie, D., Looze, M. D., Roberts, C., et al. (2012). Social determinants of health and well-being among young people. Copenhagen: World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe.Google Scholar
  23. Diener, E. D., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Elgar, F. J., McKinnon, B., Torsheim, T., Schnohr, C. W., Mazur, J., Cavallo, F., et al. (2016). Patterns of socioeconomic inequality in adolescent health differ according to the measure of socioeconomic position. Social Indicators Research, 127(3), 1169–1180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Elgar, F. J., Pförtner, T. K., Moor, I., De Clercq, B., Stevens, G. W., & Currie, C. (2015). Socioeconomic inequalities in adolescent health 2002–2010: A time-series analysis of 34 countries participating in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study. The Lancet, 385(9982), 2088–2095.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Emerson, E., Graham, H., & Hatton, C. (2006). Household income and health status in children and adolescents in Britain. The European Journal of Public Health, 16(4), 354–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gallagher, M. W., Lopez, S. J., & Pressman, S. D. (2013). Optimism is universal: Exploring the presence and benefits of optimism in a representative sample of the world. Journal of Personality, 81(5), 429–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gallo, L. C., Bogart, L. M., Vranceanu, A. M., & Matthews, K. A. (2005). Socioeconomic status, resources, psychological experiences, and emotional responses: A test of the Reserve Capacity Model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(2), 386–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gallo, L. C., de los Monteros, K. E., & Shivpuri, S. (2009). Socioeconomic status and health what is the role of reserve capacity? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(5), 269–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gallo, L. C., & Matthews, K. A. (2003). Understanding the association between socioeconomic status and physical health: Do negative emotions play a role? Psychological Bulletin, 129(1), 10–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Goldbeck, L., Schmitz, T. G., Besier, T., Herschbach, P., & Henrich, G. (2007). Life satisfaction decreases during adolescence. Quality of Life Research, 16(6), 969–979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  33. Heinonen, K., Räikkönen, K., Matthews, K. A., Scheier, M. F., Raitakari, O. T., Pulkki, L., et al. (2006). Socioeconomic status in childhood and adulthood: Associations with dispositional optimism and pessimism over a 21-year follow-up. Journal of Personality, 74(4), 1111–1126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ho, M. Y., Cheung, F. M., & Cheung, S. F. (2010). The role of meaning in life and optimism in promoting well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 48(5), 658–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jiang, W., Li, F., Jiang, H., Yu, L., Liu, W., Li, Q., et al. (2014). Core self-evaluations mediate the associations of dispositional optimism and life satisfaction. PLoS ONE, 9(6), e97752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 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
  37. Lin, Y. C. (2011). Assessing the use of the Family Affluence Scale as socioeconomic indicators for researching health inequalities in Taiwan adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 102(3), 463–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Liu, Z. J., & Chen, H. C. (2007). Chinese revision of life orientation test in junior high school students. Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology (Chinese), 15(2), 135–137.Google Scholar
  39. Liu, Y., Wang, M., Villberg, J., Torsheim, T., Tynjälä, J., Lv, Y., et al. (2012). Reliability and validity of Family Affluence Scale (FAS II) among adolescents in Beijing, China. Child Indicators Research, 5(2), 235–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lynch, J. W., Kaplan, G. A., & Shema, S. J. (1997). Cumulative impact of sustained economic hardship on physical, cognitive, psychological, and social functioning. New England Journal of Medicine, 337(26), 1889–1895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Matthews, K. A., & Gallo, L. C. (2011). Psychological perspectives on pathways linking socioeconomic status and physical health. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 501–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Matthews, K. A., Gallo, L. C., & Taylor, S. E. (2010). Are psychosocial factors mediators of socioeconomic status and health connections? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1186(1), 146–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McLoyd, V.C., Kaplan, R., Purtell, K.M., Bagley, E., Hardaway, C.R., & Smalls, C. (2009). Poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage in adolescence. In R. M. Lerner, & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (3rd ed.). Contextual influences on adolescent development, Vol. 2. (pp. 444–491). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.Google Scholar
  44. Miller, G. E., Chen, E., & Parker, K. J. (2011). Psychological stress in childhood and susceptibility to the chronic diseases of aging: Moving toward a model of behavioral and biological mechanisms. Psychological Bulletin, 137(6), 959–997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Molcho, M., Gabhainn, S. N., & Kelleher, C. C. (2007). Assessing the use of the Family Affluence Scale (FAS) among Irish schoolchildren. Irish Medical Journal100(8), suppl-37.Google Scholar
  46. Moor, I., Lampert, T., Rathmann, K., Kuntz, B., Kolip, P., Spallek, J., et al. (2014). Explaining educational inequalities in adolescent life satisfaction: Do health behaviour and gender matter? International Journal of Public Health, 59(2), 309–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Muller, D., Judd, C. M., & Yzerbyt, V. Y. (2005). When moderation is mediated and mediation is moderated. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 852–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Zumbo, B. D. (2011). Life satisfaction in early adolescence: Personal, neighborhood, school, family, and peer influences. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40(7), 889–901.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rasmussen, H. N., Scheier, M. F., & Greenhouse, J. B. (2009). Optimism and physical health: A meta-analytic review. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 37(3), 239–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Ravens-Sieberer, U., Horka, H., Illyes, A., Rajmil, L., Ottova-Jordan, V., & Erhart, M. (2013). Children’s quality of life in Europe: National wealth and familial socioeconomic position explain variations in mental health and wellbeing—A multilevel analysis in 27 EU countries. ISRN Public Health, 2013, 1–9. doi: 10.1155/2013/419530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Robb, K. A., Simon, A. E., & Wardle, J. (2009). Socioeconomic disparities in optimism and pessimism. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 16(4), 331–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Roberts, B. W., Kuncel, N. R., Shiner, R., Caspi, A., & Goldberg, L. R. (2007). The power of personality: The comparative validity of personality traits, socioeconomic status, and cognitive ability for predicting important life outcomes. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2(4), 313–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (1992). Effects of optimism on psychological and physical well-being: Theoretical overview and empirical update. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 16(2), 201–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Bridges, M. W. (1994). Distinguishing optimism from neuroticism (and trait anxiety, self-mastery, and self-esteem): A reevaluation of the Life Orientation Test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67(6), 1063–1078.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Shek, D. T. L. (1999). Parenting characteristics and adolescent psychological well-being: A longitudinal study in a Chinese context. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 125(1), 27–44.Google Scholar
  56. Shek, D. T. L. (2002). 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 processes, parent–child relational qualities, and psychological well-being in Chinese adolescents with and without economic disadvantage. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 166(2), 171–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Shek, D. T. (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
  60. Shek, D. T., & 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
  61. Shek, D. T. L., & Liu, T. T. (2014). Life satisfaction in junior secondary school students in Hong Kong: A 3-year longitudinal study. Social Indicators Research, 117(3), 777–794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Soto, C. J., John, O. P., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2011). Age differences in personality traits from 10 to 65: Big Five domains and facets in a large cross-sectional sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(2), 330–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Spencer, N. J. (2006). Social equalization in youth: Evidence from a cross-sectional British survey. The European Journal of Public Health, 16(4), 368–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. D. (1988). Illusion and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health. Psychological Bulletin, 103(2), 193–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Veronese, G., Castiglioni, M., Tombolani, M., & Said, M. (2012). ‘My happiness is the refugee camp, my future Palestine’: Optimism, life satisfaction and perceived happiness in a group of Palestinian children. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 26(3), 467–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wadsworth, M. E., & Compas, B. E. (2002). Coping with economic strain and family conflict: The adolescent perspective. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 12, 243–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wei, J. F. (2014). The relationship between left-at-home rural children’s dispositional optimism, coping styles and life satisfaction. Chinese Journal of Special Education, 11, 58–61.Google Scholar
  68. Wong, S. S., & Lim, T. (2009). Hope versus optimism in Singaporean adolescents: Contributions to depression and life satisfaction. Personality and Individual Differences, 46(5), 648–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wuhan Municipal Bureau of Statistics. (2015). Wuhan statistical yearbook-2015. Beijing: China Statistics Press.Google Scholar
  70. Yoo, J. P., & Choi, C. (2016). How do family economic contexts affect children’s subjective well-being? A study of South Korea. Child Indicators Research, 9(4), 1–22. doi: 10.1007/s12187-015-9358-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zou, R., Zhang, D. J., Niu, G. F., Xie, X. C., Fan, C. Y., Tian, Y., et al. (2016). Cross-sectional age differences in dispositional optimism in Chinese children and adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences, 102, 133–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations