Applied Research in Quality of Life

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 557–572 | Cite as

How Do Leisure Activities Impact on Life Satisfaction? Evidence for German People with Disabilities

  • Ricardo PagánEmail author


This study analyses the effect of participating in leisure activities on the levels of life satisfaction reported by people with and without disabilities. Particular attention is paid to exploring how different types of leisure activities (e.g. social gatherings, cultural events, active sports, volunteer work, etc.) affect individuals’ life satisfaction and which of them contribute most to improving it. Using longitudinal data at an individual level from the German Socio-Economic Panel, we estimate a “Probit Adapted OLS (POLS)” model which allows us to identity the determinants of life satisfaction by disability status and to control for the unobserved heterogeneity and thus determine cause and effect between the key variables. Although participation in leisure activities increases the life satisfaction scores reported by people with disabilities (except for the participation in public initiatives), this effect is quite different by leisure activity. The participation in leisure activities such as holidays, going out, or attending cultural events and church has a significant positive effect on the life satisfaction of people with disabilities. Event organizers, destination managers, business owners, professionals, governments, and the leisure industry in general must promote and facilitate full access and participation of people with disabilities in all leisure activities, especially in those that contribute more intensely to increasing their life satisfaction scores. The elimination of all disabling barriers, the understanding of their differential needs and the existence of inclusive leisure environments are key elements for improving the life satisfaction of people with disabilities.


Leisure activities Life Satisfaction Disability Germany 


  1. Baldwin, K., & Tinsley, H. (1988). An investigation of the validity of Tinsley and Tinsley’s (1986). Theory of leisure experience. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 35(3), 263–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bastug, G., & Duman, S. (2010). Examining life satisfaction level depending on physical activity in Turkish and German societies. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 4892–4895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becchetti, L., Ricca, E., & Pelloni, A. (2012). The relationship between social leisure and life satisfaction: causality and policy implications. Social Indicators Research, 108, 453–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bedini, L. (2000). Just sit down so we can talk: perceived stigma and the pursuit of community recreation for people with disabilities. Therapeutic Recreation Journal., 34, 55–68.Google Scholar
  5. Benum, K., Anstorp, T., Dalgard, O., & Sorensen, T. (1987). Social network stimulation: Health promotion in a high risk group of middle-aged women. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia Supplement, 76(337), 33–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brajsa-Zganec, A., Merkas, M., & Sverko, I. (2011). Quality of life and leisure activities: How do leisure activities contribute to subjective well-being? Social Indicators Research, 102, 81–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bruni, L., & Stanca, L. (2006). Income aspirations, television and happiness: Evidence from the world values survey. Kyklos: internationale Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaften, 59(2), 209–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buhalis, D., & Darcy, S. (2011). Accessible tourism: Concepts and issues. Bristol: Channel View.Google Scholar
  9. Burkhauser, R., & Schroeder, M. (2007). A method for comparing the economic outcomes of the working-age population with disabilities in Germany and the United States. Journal of Applied Social Science Studies, 127(2), 227–258.Google Scholar
  10. Clark, A., & Oswald, A. (1996). Satisfaction and comparison income. Journal of Public Economics, 61(3), 359–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clark, A., Diener, E., Georgelli, Y., & Lucas, R. (2008). “Lags and leads in life satisfaction: A test of the baseline hypothesis.” Economic Journal, 118(259), F222–F243.Google Scholar
  12. Coleman, J. (1993). Social capital in the creation of human capital. The American Journal of Sociology, 94, 95–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  14. Dattilo, L. (1994). Inclusive leisure services: Responding to the rights of people with disabilities. State College: Venture Publishing.Google Scholar
  15. Delle Fave, A., & Bassi, M. (2003). Italian adolescents and leisure: The role of engagement and optimal experience. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 99, 79–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Devine, M. A. (1997). Inclusive leisure services and research: Consideration of the use of social construction theory. Journal of Leisurability, 24(2), 3–11.Google Scholar
  17. Devine, M. A., & Dattilo, J. (2001). The relationship between social acceptance and leisure lifest^des of people witli disabilities. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 34(4), 306–322.Google Scholar
  18. Devine, M., & Lashua, B. (2002). Constructing social acceptance in inclusive leisure contexts: The role of individuals with disabilities. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 36, 65–83.Google Scholar
  19. Diener, E., & Diener, M. (1995). Cross-cultural correlates of life satisfaction and self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 653–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dolnicar, S., Yanamandram, V., & Cliff, K. (2012). The contribution of vacations to quality of life. Annals of Tourism Research, 39(1), 59–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dowall, J., Bolter, C., Flett, R., & Kammann, R. (1988). Psychological well-being and its relationship to fitness and activity levels. Journal of Human Movement Studies, 14(1), 39–45.Google Scholar
  22. Frey, B. S., Benesch, C., & Strutzer, A. (2005). Does watching TV make us happy? Zurich: University of Zurich, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics.Google Scholar
  23. Frisch, M. (1998). Quality of life therapy and assessment in health care. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 5, 19–40.Google Scholar
  24. Helliwell, J., & Putman, R. (2004). The social context of well-being. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Biological Sciences, 359(1449), 1435–1446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Iwasaki, Y., & Smale, B. (1998). Longitudinal analyses of the relationship among life transitions, chronic health problems, leisure, and psychological well-being. Leisure Sciences, 20, 25–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Koohsar, A., & Bonab, B. (2011). Relation between quality of attachment and life satisfaction in high school administrators. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 30, 954–958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lancee, B., & Radl, J. (2012). Social connectedness and the transition from work to retirement. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 67(4), 481–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Laukka, P. (2007). Uses of music and psychological well-being among the elderly. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8(2), 215–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Leung, L., & Lee, P. (2005). Multiple determinants of life quality: The roles of Internet activities use of new media, social support, and leisure activities. Telematics and Informatics, 22, 161–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lloyd, K., & Auld, C. (2002). The role of leisure in determining quality of life: Issues of content and measurement. Social Indicators Research, 57(1), 43–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lloyd, C., King, R., Lampe, J., & McDougall, S. (2001). The leisure satisfaction of people with psychiatric disabilities. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 25(2), 107–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lucas, R. (2007). Long-term disability is associated with lasting changes in subjective well-being: Evidence from two national representative longitudinal studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(4), 717–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McCabe, S., & Johnson, S. (2013). The happiness factor in tourism: subjective wellbeing and social tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 41, 42–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McCormick, B., & McGuire, F. (1996). Leisure in community life of older rural residents. Leisure Sciences, 18, 77–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Michalos, A., & Kahlke, P. (2010). Arts and the perceived quality of life in British Columbia. Social Indicators Research, 96, 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nawijn, J. (2011). Determinants of daily happiness on vacation. Journal of Travel Research, 50(5), 559–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nawijn, J., & Veenhoven, R. (2011). The effects of leisure activities on life satisfaction: The importance of holiday trips. In I. Brdar (Ed.), The human pursuit of well-being: A cultural approach (pp. 39–53). London: Springer Science + Business Media.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Oswald, A., & Powdthavee, N. (2008). Does happiness adapt? A longitudinal study of disability with implications for economists and judges. Journal of Public Economics, 92, 1061–1077.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pagan, R. (2012). Longitudinal analysis of the domains of satisfaction before and after disability: Evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel. Social Indicators Research, 108(3), 365–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pagan, R. (2014a). The contribution of holiday trips to life satisfaction: the case of people with disabilities. Current Issues in Tourism, forthcoming, online first.Google Scholar
  41. Pagan, R. (2014b). How do disabled individuals spend their leisure time? Disability and Health Journal, 7(2), 196–205.Google Scholar
  42. Parr, M., & Lashua, B. (2004). What is leisure? The perceptions of recreation practitioners and others. Leisure Sciences, 26, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone. The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  44. Reynolds, R. (1993). Recreation and leisure lifestyle changes. In P. Wehman (Ed.), Use ADA mandate for a social change (pp. 2\7-23S). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.Google Scholar
  45. Rimmer, J., & Rowland, J. (2008). Health promotion for people with disabilities: implications for empowering the person and promoting disability-friendly environments. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine., 2(5), 409–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Robinson, J. P., & Martin, S. (2008). What do happy people do? Social Indicators Research, 89, 565–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sirgy, M. (2010). Toward a quality-of-life theory of leisure travel satisfaction. Journal of Travel Research, 49, 246–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sirgy, M. (2012). The psychology of quality of life: hedonic well-being, life satisfaction and eudaimonia. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sirgy, M., Kruger, P., Lee, D., & Grace, B. (2011). How does a travel trip affect tourists’ life satisfaction? Journal of Travel Research, 50, 261–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Smith, R. (1987). Leisure of disabled tourists: barriers to participation. Annals of Tourism Research, 14, 376–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Terza, J. (1987). Estimating linear models with ordinal qualitative regressors. Journal of Econometrics, 34, 275–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Toepoel, V. (2013). Ageing, leisure and social connectedness: how could leisure help reduce social isolation of older people? Social Indicators Research, 113, 355–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Van Praag, B., & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A. (2008). Quantified happiness: A satisfaction calculus approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Van Praag, B., Frijters, P., & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A. (2003). The anatomy of subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 51, 29–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Veenhoven, R. (1991). Questions on happiness: Classical topics, modern answers, blind spots. In F. Strack, M. Argyle, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Subjective well-being: An interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 7–26). Oxford: Pergammon Press.Google Scholar
  56. Verbeek, M., & Nijman, T. (1992). Testing for selectivity bias in panel data models. International Economic Review, 33(3), 681–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wankel, L., & Berger, B. (1990). The psychological and social benefits of sport and physical activity. Journal of Leisure Research, 22(2), 167–182.Google Scholar
  58. Wilhite, B., & Shank, J. (2009). In praise of sport: Promoting sport participation as a mechanism of health among persons with a disability. Disability and Health Journal., 2, 116–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Winefield, A., Tiggemann, M., & Winefield, H. (1992). Spare time use and psychological well-being in employed and unemployed young people. Journal of Occupational and organizational Psychology, 65, 307–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Winkelmann, R. (2009). Unemployment, social capital and subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 421–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Woolcock, M. (2001). The place of social capital in understanding social and economic outcomes. In Proc. OECD/HRDC Conference, Quebec, 19–21 March 2000: the contribution of human and social capital to sustained economic growth and well-being (ed. J. F. Helliwell), pp. 65–88. Ottawa: HDRC.Google Scholar
  62. Ye, S., Yu, L., & Li, K. (2012). A cross-lagged model of self-esteem and life satisfaction: Gender differences among Chinese university students. Personality and Individual Differences, 52(4), 546–551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Zimmermann, A., & Easterlin, R. (2006). Happily ever after? Cohabitation, marriage, divorce and happiness in Germany? Population and Development Review, 32(3), 511–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Applied Economics DepartmentUniversity of MalagaMalagaSpain

Personalised recommendations