Subjective Well-Being in Swedish Women

University dissertation from Stockholm : Psykologiska institutionen

Abstract: The present thesis concerns middle-aged women’s subjective well-being (SWB). The interest is focused on the importance of childhood factors, social circumstances, and personality for middle-aged women’s general SWB. Data were taken from the longitudinal research program Individual Development and Adaptation (IDA, Magnusson & Bergman, 2000) and concerned a sample of about 300 women. The main analyses were made on data collected at age 43, but data collected at age 13 and age 49 were also used to elucidate the purposes of this thesis. The results can be summarized as follows: 1) In a Swedish sample of middle-aged women, social circumstances had only a moderate effect on general SWB variables. The strongest relationship was found between marital status and global life satisfaction. When personality factors were controlled for, they wiped out nearly all relationships between the social circumstances variables and SWB, except for those between global life satisfaction and marital status or unemployment; 2) The level of general SWB was found to be considerably higher for Swedish employed women as compared to their counterparts in Lithuania and different socio-demographic variables predicted SWB in those two countries. For the Swedish sample, family-oriented variables were the strongest predictors of SWB, while for the Lithuanian sample income and educational level were more important; 3) Results from applying longitudinal structural equation modeling suggested that optimism in adolescence influenced optimism in middle age, which in its turn had both a direct influence on global life satisfaction and an indirect influence via the negative affect dimension. In relation to a number of different adjustment factors measured in adolescence it was found that optimism was the only factor that was constantly related to SWB 30 years later; 4) Typical patterns of general SWB were identified. Cluster analyses at age 43 and age 49 separately resulted in similar well-functioning six cluster solutions at both ages, indicating structural stability across six years. In addition to the typical high/low/average SWB clusters that could be to some degree expected from variable-oriented results, a cluster with intense affect and one with very low GLS emerged. All clusters except the latter one showed individual stability across six years.