Event Histories, Family and the Links between Subjective Happiness and Perceptions of Welfare: A Biographical Perspective

Olivia Ekert-Jaffe, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

Using data from the French survey “Biography and contact circles” (Ined, 2001), our aim is to link the retrospective feelings of reported subjective happiness to perceived financial welfare throughout the life cycle, and to identify criteria that strengthen or weaken these links. For which population, for what biographical events in professional lives, housing or the family sphere, do these links vary? By using retrospective perceptions at the time of the survey, variations can be measured from evaluations produced at the same point in time. We successively study the related transitions between two periods, the distance between welfare and financial wellbeing sequences and their profiles. The series are highly correlated. But all renewal events, such as a new job, forming a new couple, remarrying, and even divorcing, enhance happiness even in cases where they reduce perceived financial welfare. Conversely, a financially difficult childhood is linked to an unhappy life.

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Presented in Poster Session 2