One Size Does Not Fit All: Alternative Values-Based ‘Recipes’ for Life Satisfaction

Aufsätze referiert extern - Web of Science 2 / 2019

Bruce Headey, Gert G. Wagner

In: Social Indicators Research 145 (2019), 2, S. 581-613


In most previous research on the determinants of Life Satisfaction (LS), there has been an implicit assumption that ‘one size fits all’. That is, it has usually been assumed that the covariates of LS are the same for everyone, or at least everyone in the Western world. In this paper, using data from the long-running German Socio-Economic Panel (1984-), we estimate statistical models to assess the effects of commitment to differing personal values on LS. The personal values in question are: traditional family values, pro-social altruistic values and materialistic (money and career) values. These values are linked to differing behavioural choices with substantial effects on domain satisfactions and LS. It can be inferred that linked sets of values, behavioural choices and domain satisfactions may constitute alternative ‘recipes’ for LS. However, in the absence of direct evidence of motivation, it is not claimed that panel respondents consciously follow these ‘recipes’ with a view to enhancing their LS. Our results indicate that the effect of individuals adhering to a traditional family values ‘recipe’ or an altruistic values ‘recipe’ is that they record above average LS, whereas materialistic values are linked to below average LS.

Gert G. Wagner

Senior Research Fellow in der Infrastruktureinrichtung Sozio-oekonomisches Panel

Themen: Wohlbefinden

Keywords: Life satisfaction, Personal values/life priorities, Behavioural choices, ‘Recipes’, German socio-economic panel