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12. Dezember 2012

SOEP Brown Bag Seminar

Are we architects of our own happiness? The importance of family background for well-being


12. Dezember 2012
12:30 - 13:30


DIW Berlin im Quartier 110
Room 5.2.010
Mohrenstraße 58
10117 Berlin


Christoph Wunder (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)
Modern societies and economies are built on the promise that individuals are basically free to choose actions to achieve their greatest happiness. This implies that individuals are the architects of their own happiness (or well-being). Based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), this paper analyzes to which extent individuals' well-being is determined not by their own actions but by the influence of their family background. We present sibling correlations as well as intergenerational correlations in well-being.
We find high sibling correlations for all areas of subjective well-being and therefore substantial influence of family background. This influence weakens with the siblings' distance from their parental home. The comparison of sibling correlations with intergenerational correlations shows that the influence of family background is much stronger than suggested by traditional one dimensional measures of intergenerational mobility.