Social Indicators Research

, Volume 111, Issue 1, pp 75–96 | Cite as

The Interplay between Educational Achievement, Occupational Success, and Well-Being

  • Robin SamuelEmail author
  • Manfred Max Bergman
  • Sandra Hupka-Brunner


Many studies have examined the effect of life events, education, and income on well-being. Conversely, research concerning well-being as a predictor of life course outcomes is sparse. Diener’s suggestion “to inquire about the effects of well-being on future behavior and success” has, with some exceptions, not yet come to fruition. This article contributes to this body of research. We conceptualize and analyze the interplay between educational achievement, occupational success, and well-being as a complex process. The relationship between these domains is examined drawing on a structure-agency framework derived from Bourdieu and Social Comparison Theory. Social comparison between adolescents and their parents is suggested to be the mechanism explaining the effects of successful and unsuccessful intergenerational transmission of educational achievement and occupational success on well-being. It is further argued that well-being may serve as an individual resource by fostering educational and occupational outcomes. Panel data from the Transition from Education to Employment (TREE) project, a Swiss PISA 2000 follow-up study, was used. The interplay between well-being and successful and unsuccessful intergenerational transfer of educational attainment was analyzed in an autoregressive cross-lagged mixture model framework. Social comparison was found to be related to well-being, while well-being proved to significantly increase the probability of successful intergenerational transfer of educational attainment.


Educational achievement Occupational success Well-being Cultural capital Longitudinal analysis 



This research was financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation grants 100013_130042 and 10FI13-120796. The authors would like to thank Jean Anthony Grand-Guillaume-Perrenoud for proofreading.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin Samuel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Manfred Max Bergman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sandra Hupka-Brunner
    • 4
  1. 1.Chair of Social Research and Methodology, Department of the Social SciencesUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.University of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth-Africa
  3. 3.University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth-Africa
  4. 4.Chair of Social Research and Methodology, Department of the Social Sciences, TREE—Transition from Education to EmploymentUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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