Transitions during Early Adulthood and Their Impact on Life Satisfaction and Subjective Well-Being in Germany, Japan and the United States

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Nicolai GROEPLER, Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany
The aim of this paper is to assess the impact of various transitions during adulthood on life satisfaction and subjective well-being in divergent cultural contexts. The comparison focused on Germany, Japan, and the United States, three countries which are among the economically most developed countries in the world, but nonetheless retain significant cultural and institutional peculiarities to this day. Cultural dimensions of great relevance in the context of the transition to adulthood and its relationship with life satisfaction and subjective well-being are the divide between more collectivistic and more individualistic societies as well as cultural norms regarding family and kinship relations. These underlying cultural norms are expected to shape normative expectations regarding the importance of certain transitions as markers on the path to adulthood. From this perspective, complying with either these expectations or even one’s own internalized values can be understood as a source of satisfaction and emotional well-being, whereas failure to meet the culturally defined requirements during the transition to adulthood may be associated with dissatisfaction and emotional stress. Among the transitions of interest are leaving the parental home and establishment of an independent household, formation of a partnership and starting to live with one’s partner in a common household, marriage and childbearing. Beyond the substantive interest in the cross-cultural comparison, applying a panel approach whilst taking into account such diverse cultural contexts offers a unique opportunity to better assess the causal relationship between these transitions and changes in life satisfaction as well as subjective well-being.

For the empirical analysis, I use harmonized panel data from the German Family Panel (pairfam), the Japanese Life Course Panel Surveys (JLPS) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97).