Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 1219–1234 | Cite as

How Does the Economic Crisis Influence Adolescents’ Happiness? Population-Based Surveys in Iceland in 2000–2010

  • Dora G. GudmundsdóttirEmail author
  • Bryndís Björk Ásgeirsdóttir
  • Felicia A. Huppert
  • Inga D. Sigfúsdóttir
  • Unnur A. Valdimarsdóttir
  • Arna Hauksdóttir
Research Paper


Macroeconomic downturns have been associated with a decrease in happiness among adults. The aim of this study was to explore the secular trend in happiness among Icelandic adolescents during a period of drastic change in the national economy as well as to identify which groups were most vulnerable and most resilient during the economic crisis. The data used in this study comes from series of population-based surveys of Icelandic adolescents in 2000, 2006, 2009, and 2010. Altogether, a total of 28.484 adolescents participated in the four surveys, representing 84 % of all 14–15 year old adolescents in Iceland. Results indicated that happiness increased by 5 % in the adolescent population from 2000 to 2010 despite the economic crisis. Nevertheless, adolescents who seldom spent time with their parents or perceived difficulties in getting emotional support from parents demonstrated a decrease in happiness. Those who found it easy to get emotional support from parents were happiest at every time point (91–93 %) while those who found it difficult were unhappiest (36–50 %). The association between socio- demographic factors and happiness was explored using multiple linear regression analyses where the year of survey, gender, age, family structure, parent’s education, time spent with parents and emotional support from parents altogether explained 13 % of the happiness variance. Emotional support from parents together with time spent with parents had the largest influence on adolescent’s happiness. An overall increase in time spent with parents was detected which might explain the increase in adolescents´ happiness over time. These results indicate that good relations with parents may protect adolescents from possible negative effect of a national economic crisis.


Happiness Adolescents Economic crisis Social relations Well-being 



This work was supported by the grant from “The Icelandic Research Fund for Graduate Students”. We would like to thank Sigrún Helga Lund for statistical advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dora G. Gudmundsdóttir
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Bryndís Björk Ásgeirsdóttir
    • 5
  • Felicia A. Huppert
    • 3
    • 4
  • Inga D. Sigfúsdóttir
    • 5
    • 7
  • Unnur A. Valdimarsdóttir
    • 1
    • 6
  • Arna Hauksdóttir
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre of Public Health SciencesUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  2. 2.The Directorate of Health in IcelandReykjavikIceland
  3. 3.Well-being InstituteUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  4. 4.Institute for Positive Psychology and EducationSydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyReykjavik UniversityReykjavikIceland
  6. 6.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  7. 7.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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