Examining the Structure of Happiness and Life Satisfaction in Japan Utilizing a Large Scale National Survey

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:45 AM
Room: Harbor Lounge A
Oral Presentation
Yoshinori KAMO , Sociology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Akiko KAMESAKA , Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan
Using data from “The Study on the Quality of Life” collected by the Cabinet Office in March 2012, we examined the structures and factors affecting the happiness and general life satisfaction among Japanese.

Both measures are calculated with single questions, and the mean score for happiness (6.64 for the scale of 0-10) is higher than life satisfaction (5.98).

Of all satisfactions with various aspects of our life (e.g. housing, childcare, healthcare, etc.), the satisfaction with family is most strongly related to happiness and life satisfaction except for the satisfaction with work to life satisfaction among males.

Multiple regression analyses indicate that the respondent’s age shows a U-shaped effect on the life satisfaction (lowest at age 40 through 50). The happiness is positively affected by the respondent’s education and being married, both of which seem to indicate more psychological, internal state of our life.

We also took an exploratory approach and regressed both variables on various psychological, attitudinal variables. We found that our happiness was more strongly related to the happiness of family members than any others including own life satisfaction. Other factors related to happiness but not life satisfaction include tolerance, peace of mind, tenderness, and feeling accomplishment often, which all indicate autonomous and psychological fulfillment, somewhat similar to the concept of Eudaimonie in Greek philosophy.

On the other hand, factors related to satisfaction but not happiness include doing as well as people around myself, feeling appreciated by others, feeling confident that I am as successful as others, and often thinking of myself first, which all indicate utilitarian and competitive drives.

The present study is based on one of the first and most comprehensive data sets on subjective well-being in Japan with a national sample. As such, it offers a contemporary and comprehensive overview of subjective well-being in Japan.