Are We Architects of Our Own Happiness? The Importance of Family Background for Well-Being

35 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2014

See all articles by Daniel Schnitzlein

Daniel Schnitzlein

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin); University of Hamburg

Christoph Wunder

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg-Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen Nürnberg - Department of Economics; University of Bamberg

Date Written: November 2014

Abstract

This paper analyzes whether individuals have equal opportunity to achieve happiness (or wellbeing). We estimate sibling correlations and intergenerational correlations in self-reported life satisfaction, satisfaction with household income, job satisfaction, and satisfaction with health. We find high sibling correlations for all measures of well-being. The results suggest that family background explains, on average, between 30% and 60% of the inequality in permanent wellbeing. The influence is smaller when the siblings’ psychological and geographical distance from their parental home is larger. Results from intergenerational correlations suggest that parental characteristics are considerably less important than family and community factors.

Keywords: subjective well-being, family background, intergenerational mobility, siblings

JEL Classification: D3, I31, J62

Suggested Citation

Schnitzlein, Daniel and Wunder, Christoph, Are We Architects of Our Own Happiness? The Importance of Family Background for Well-Being (November 2014). SOEPpaper No. 700. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2529978 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2529978

Daniel Schnitzlein (Contact Author)

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

University of Hamburg ( email )

Allende-Platz 1
Hamburg, 20146
Germany

Christoph Wunder

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg-Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen Nürnberg - Department of Economics ( email )

Lange Gasse 20
Nuernberg, D-90403
Germany

University of Bamberg ( email )

Feldkirchenstr. 21
Bamberg 96045
Germany

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