Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 843–860 | Cite as

Childhood Adversity and Adulthood Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from Japan

  • Takashi Oshio
  • Maki Umeda
  • Norito Kawakami
Research Paper


In this study, we examined the impact of childhood interpersonal adversity on adulthood subjective well-being (SWB), with a focus on the mediating and moderating effects of social support and socioeconomic status (SES). We concentrated on parental maltreatment (abuse and neglect) and bullying in school as childhood adversity variables and on perceived happiness and self-rated health as adulthood SWB measures. Our empirical analysis was based on micro data from a survey in municipalities in and around the Tokyo metropolitan area (N = 3,292). We obtained four key findings. First, the experience of childhood adversity had a substantial negative impact on adulthood SWB. Second, social support and SES significantly mediated the impact of childhood adversity. Third, however, a large proportion of the impact of childhood adversity remained unexplained by their mediation effects. Fourth, social support and SES did not moderate the impact of childhood adversity. Hence, we can conclude that childhood adversity affects adulthood SWB in a relatively independent manner rather than being substantially mediated or moderated by social support or SES. Accordingly, social policies should aim at reducing incidents of childhood maltreatment and bullying in addition to helping people enhance levels of social support and SES in later life.


Childhood adversity Adulthood subjective well-being Socioeconomic status Social support Mediation analysis Japan 



The authors thank Prof. Hideki Hashimoto and his team for providing us data from the Japanese Study of Stratification, Health, Income, and Neighborhood (J-SHINE), for which data collection was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A) 2009–2013 (No. 20240061) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan. Analyses of the data and preparation for the manuscript were supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A) 2009–2013 (No. 20240062 and 20240063) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Economic ResearchHitotsubashi UniversityTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of MedicineThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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