Social Indicators Research

, Volume 139, Issue 2, pp 787–802 | Cite as

Which Life Domains Impact Most on Self-Rated Health? A Cross-Cultural Study of Switzerland and its Neighbors

  • Nadine HäuslerEmail author
  • Oliver Hämmig
  • Matthias Bopp


General life satisfaction (GLS) is a strong health correlate and can be conceptualized as an aggregate of satisfactions in different life domains and as a proxy for quality of life. Little is known about which life domains—measured as domain satisfactions—contribute most to GLS and are the best predictors of self-rated health (SRH) and whether these associations differ between countries and/or language areas. We used stepwise logistic regression models to investigate how domain satisfactions, GLS and SRH are interrelated and compared German-speaking and French/Italian-speaking Switzerland with the corresponding neighboring countries of Germany, Austria, France and Italy. The associations of domain satisfactions with GLS and SRH varied significantly in magnitude and between countries and language areas. GLS was strongly related to self-rated health in all populations, but more so in the German-speaking than the French/Italian-speaking regions. Adjusted for all domain satisfactions, satisfaction with one’s financial situation and job satisfaction showed independent effects on SRH and were the most important predictors of GLS, although no clear geographical pattern emerged. Domain-specific satisfactions were similarly associated with GLS and SRH, but the strength of the association varied between German-, French- and Italian-speaking populations. Any similarity between Swiss language areas and neighboring countries was limited to German-speaking populations. Country- and language-specific life domain satisfactions may provide useful pointers for targeting policies in the respective domains.


Self-rated health Life satisfaction Domain satisfaction Life domains Switzerland 



We thank EUROSTAT and the Swiss Federal Statistical Office for providing access to the individual data of the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2013. The responsibility for all conclusions drawn from the data lies entirely with the authors. We are indebted to Julia Braun for statistical advice regarding interaction models.


This work is part of the project “Ageing, Work and Health” which was funded by an unconditional grant of the “Pfizer Stiftung für Geriatrie und Altersforschung”. The funding source had no role in the design and conduct of the study, analysis and interpretation of the data, preparation, review or approval of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

However this is an observational study based on survey data that were collected on a voluntary and anonymous basis, no approval by the ethics committee was required.

Supplementary material

11205_2017_1731_MOESM1_ESM.docx (58 kb)
Additional File 1 Missing responses and answer category “I don’t know” per variable of interest by country in 2013 (DOCX 57 kb)
11205_2017_1731_MOESM2_ESM.docx (44 kb)
Additional File 2 Percentage of respondents with low GLS and less than good SRH by country/language area in 2013 (DOCX 44 kb)
11205_2017_1731_MOESM3_ESM.docx (29 kb)
Additional File 3 Characteristics of study population by country and language area within Switzerland in 2013 Number of participants, percentage of participants reporting less than good SRH, means and standard deviation for continuous variables (DOCX 29 kb)
11205_2017_1731_MOESM4_ESM.docx (157 kb)
Additional File 4 Correlations between satisfaction measures and SRH by country/language area in 2013 (DOCX 157 kb)
11205_2017_1731_MOESM5_ESM.docx (150 kb)
Additional File 5 Associations between satisfaction measures and SRH. Logistic regression with interaction terms for job satisfaction and country, satisfaction with one’s financial situation and country as well as GLS and country in 2013 (DOCX 150 kb)


  1. Abel, T., Hofmann, K., & Schori, D. (2013). Social and regional variations in health status and health behaviours among Swiss young adults. Swiss Medical Weekly, 143(December), 1–9. doi: 10.4414/smw.2013.13901.Google Scholar
  2. Arora, V. S., Karanikolos, M., Clair, A., Reeves, A., Stuckler, D., & McKee, M. (2015). Data resource profile: The European union statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC). International Journal of Epidemiology, 44(2), 451–461. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyv069.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balabanova, D. C., & McKee, M. (2002). Self-reported health in Bulgaria: Levels and determinants. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 30(4), 306–312. doi: 10.1080/14034940210164867.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1173–1182. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.51.6.1173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Böckerman, P., & Ilmakunnas, P. (2008). Interaction of working conditions, job satisfaction, and sickness absences: Evidence from a representative sample of employees. Social Science and Medicine, 67(4), 520–528. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.04.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bringolf-Isler, B., Mäder, U., Dössegger, A., Hofmann, H., Puder, J. J., Braun-Fahrländer, C., et al. (2015). Regional differences of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in Swiss children are not explained by socio-demographics or the built environment. International Journal of Public Health, 60(3), 291–300. doi: 10.1007/s00038-014-0645-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brügger, B., Lalive, R., & Zweimüller, J. (2009). Does culture affect unemployment? Evidence from the Röstigraben. IZA discussion papers 4283.Google Scholar
  8. Cummins, R. (1996). The domains of life satisfaction: An attempt to order chaos. Social Indicators Research, 38(3), 303–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being. The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index. The American Psychologist, 55(1), 34–43. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2003). Personality, culture, and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual Review of Psychology, 54(1), 403–425. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.54.101601.145056.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Diener, E., Scollon, C. N. K. N., Oishi, S., Dzokoto, V., & Suh, E. M. (2000). Positivity and the construction of life satisfaction judgments: Global happiness is not the sum of its parts. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 159–176. doi: 10.1023/A:1010031813405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Diener, E., & Suh, E. (1997). Measuring quality of life: Economic, social, and subjective indicators. Social Indicators Research, 40(1/2), 189–216. doi: 10.1023/A:1006859511756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Diener, E., & Suh, E. (2000). Culture and subjective well-being. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  14. Erdogan, B., Bauer, T. N., Truxillo, D. M., & Mansfield, L. R. (2012). Whistle while you work: A review of the life satisfaction literature. Journal of Management, 38(4), 1038–1083. doi: 10.1177/0149206311429379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. European Commission. (2012). EU-SILC 2013 Module on well-being description of SILC secondary target variables. Version 5—March 2012 Unit. Accessed 10 August 2016.
  16. European Commission. (2015). 2013 EU-SILC module on wellbeing assessment of the implementation. Accessed 10 August 2016.
  17. EUROSTAT. (2015a). Quality of life indicators—Overall experience of life. Accessed 12 August 2016.
  18. EUROSTAT. (2015b). International standard classification of education (ISCED). Accessed 12 August 2016.
  19. EUROSTAT. (2016a). Glossary: EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)—Statistics explained. Accessed 14 August 2016.
  20. EUROSTAT. (2016b). Quality of life in Europe: Facts and views—Overall life satisfaction—Statistics explained. Accessed 12 August 2016.
  21. Faeh, D., Minder, C., Gutzwiller, F., & Bopp, M. (2009). Culture, risk factors and mortality: Can Switzerland add missing pieces to the European puzzle? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 63, 639–645. doi: 10.1136/jech.2008.081042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Faragher, E. B. (2005). The relationship between job satisfaction and health: A meta-analysis. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 62, 105–112. doi: 10.1136/oem.2002.006734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ferrarini, T., Nelson, K., & Sjöberg, O. (2014). Unemployment insurance and deteriorating self-rated health in 23 European countries. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 68, 657–662. doi: 10.1136/jech-2013-203721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Godefroy, P. (2011). Life-satisfaction: French people give themselves an average score of 7 out of 10. Accessed 10 August 2016.
  25. Gordon, D., Lloyd, L., & Heslop, P. (2001). Jersey health survey. Bristol. Accessed 12 August 2016.
  26. Hofstede, G. (1991). Cultures and organisations: Software of the mind 1994. Londom: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  27. Hofstede, G. (2017). Country comparison. Accessed 20 February 2017.
  28. Kaloko, M. S. (2015). Multi-sectoral investments for health. In J. Frenk & S. Hoffman (Eds.), To save humanity: What matters most for a healthy future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Kinzl, J. F., Knotzer, H., Traweger, C., Lederer, W., Heidegger, T., & Benzer, A. (2005). Influence of working conditions on job satisfaction in anaesthetists. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 94(2), 211–215. doi: 10.1093/bja/aei035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Loewe, N., Bagherzadeh, M., Araya-Castillo, L., Thieme, C., & Batista-Foguet, J. M. (2014). Life domain satisfactions as predictors of overall life satisfaction among workers: Evidence from Chile. Social Indicators Research, 118(1), 71–86. doi: 10.1007/s11205-013-0408-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Martikainen, P., Aromaa, A., Heliövaara, M., Klaukka, T., Knekt, P., Maatela, J., et al. (1999). Reliability of perceived health by sex and age. Social Science and Medicine, 48(8), 1117–1122. doi: 10.1016/S0277-9536(98)00416-X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McMichael, A. J. (1976). Standardized mortality ratios and the “healthy worker effect”: Scratching beneath the surface. Journal of Occupational Medicine, 18(3), 165–168. doi: 10.1097/00043764-197603000-00009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mossey, J. M., & Shapiro, E. (1982). Self-rated health: A predictor of mortality among the elderly. American Journal of Public Health, 72(8), 800–808. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.72.8.800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. OECD. (2014). How’s life in Italy? In how’s life? 2013: Measuring well-being. Paris: OECD Publishing. doi: 10.1787/9789264201392-en.Google Scholar
  35. OECD. (2015). Health status. Accessed 15 August 2016.
  36. Oishi, S., Diener, E., Suh, E., & Lucas, R. E. (1999). Value as a moderator in subjective well-being. Journal of Personality, 67(1), 157–184. doi: 10.1111/1467-6494.00051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (2008). The Satisfaction With Life Scale and the emerging construct of life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 3(2), 137–152. doi: 10.1080/17439760701756946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Plüss-Suard, C., Pannatier, A., Kronenberg, A., Mühlemann, K., & Zanetti, G. (2011). Hospital antibiotic consumption in Switzerland: Comparison of a multicultural country with Europe. Journal of Hospital Infection, 79(2), 166–171. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2011.05.028.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Reyes Fernandez, B., Rosero-Bixby, L., & Koivumaa-Honkanen, H. (2015). Effects of self-rated health and self-rated economic situation on depressed mood via life satisfaction among older adults in costa rica. Journal of Aging and Health, 28(2), 225–243. doi: 10.1177/0898264315589577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rodriguez, E., Allen, J. A., Frongillo, E. A., & Chandra, P. (1999). Unemployment, depression, and health: A look at the African-American community. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 53(6), 335–342. doi: 10.1136/jech.53.6.335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rojas, M. (2006). Life satisfaction and satisfaction in domains of life: Is it a simple relationship? Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(4), 467–497. doi: 10.1007/s10902-006-9009-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Siahpush, M., Spittal, M., & Singh, G. (2008). Happiness and life satisfaction prospectively predict self-rated health, physical health, and the presence of limiting, long-term health conditions. American Journal of Health Promotion, 23(1), 18–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. StataCorp. (2013). Stata statistical software: Release 13. College Station, TX: StataCorp LP.Google Scholar
  44. Stiglitz, J. E., Sen, A., & Fitoussi, J.-P. (2009). Report by the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress. Sustainable Development, 12, 292. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.1714428.Google Scholar
  45. Waller, G., Janlert, U., Hamberg, K., & Forssen, A. (2016). What does age-comparative self-rated health measure? A cross-sectional study from the Northern Sweden MONICA Project. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 44(3), 233–2339. doi: 10.1177/1403494815618554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadine Häusler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Oliver Hämmig
    • 1
  • Matthias Bopp
    • 1
  1. 1.Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention InstituteUniversity of ZürichZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations