Leisure Activities and Life Satisfaction: an Analysis with German Panel Data

Abstract

Given the nature of leisure as largely uncoerced and not necessary for survival it seems obvious at a first glance that leisure activities should contribute to happiness. Indeed, recent research has found positive effects of leisure activities on subjective well-being. In this article, we analyze the association between leisure activities and life satisfaction based on longitudinal data from Germany. By applying fixed-effects regression models we are able to rule out potential bias due to unobserved heterogeneity in time-constant variables. We use data from three waves of the German Family Panel (pairfam), a large, randomly sampled longitudinal study of adolescents and adults (aged 15–41 across the observation period), to test the effects of five leisure activities (sports; vacation; meeting with friends; internet use; and TV viewing) on respondents’ life satisfaction. Our results indicate that meeting with friends, doing sports, and going on vacation contributes positively to life satisfaction whereas internet use for personal purposes and TV consumption are negatively related to life satisfaction.

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Acknowledgments

This study uses data from the German Family Panel pairfam, coordinated by Josef Brüderl, Karsten Hank, Johannes Huinink, Bernhard Nauck, Franz Neyer, and Sabine Walper. pairfam is funded as long-term project by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

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Correspondence to Claudia Schmiedeberg.

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Schmiedeberg, C., Schröder, J. Leisure Activities and Life Satisfaction: an Analysis with German Panel Data. Applied Research Quality Life 12, 137–151 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-016-9458-7

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Keywords

  • Leisure activities
  • Life satisfaction
  • Social leisure
  • Physical activity
  • Vacation
  • Television
  • Fixed-effects regression