This paper uses longitudinal data from the British Household Panel Survey to investigate the relationship between the subjective well-being of parents, in terms of life satisfaction and affective well-being, and the life satisfaction of their children. Literature, primarily from psychology, suggests that such a relationship exists due to the shared family environment, common stressors and the heritability of subjective well-being. Linear and logit regression showed a significant positive relationship between parent’s life satisfaction and the life satisfaction of their children, which differed between mothers and fathers. High life satisfaction in mothers was found to be more influential on children whose life satisfaction was not low, while the influence of father’s life satisfaction was not found to vary; having a consistent influence on children regardless of their level of life satisfaction. Parent’s affective well-being was not significantly related to the life satisfaction of their children. Parent’s subjective well-being was compared with parent–child relationship quality in terms of influence on child life satisfaction. Parental life satisfaction measures were found to maintain their significant influence but relationship quality was found to explain a far higher amount of the variance in child life satisfaction. As with the findings for parent’s life satisfaction, quality of relationship with their mother was found to vary according to the level life satisfaction of the child while quality of relationship with father had a consistent influence.
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This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant reference ES/I009124/1). The data used in this paper were made available through the ESRC Data Archive. The data were originally collected by the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-social Change at the University of Essex (now incorporated within the Institute for Social and Economic Research). Neither the original collectors of the data nor the Archive bear any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here. An earlier version of this work was presented at the 3rd conference of the International Society for Child Indicators, held at the University of York on the 27th–29th July 2011. I am very grateful for the feedback from those who attended. Many thanks to Professor Kathleen Kiernan for her invaluable advice, guidance and support.
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Clair, A. The Relationship Between Parent’s Subjective Well-Being and the Life Satisfaction of Their Children in Britain. Child Ind Res 5, 631–650 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-012-9139-5
- Subjective well-being