Life Satisfaction among Middle School Students around the World Cross-Cultural Evidence from PISA 2018
43 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 25, 2020
Using rich data from roughly half a million 15-year-olds across 72 countries and economies participating in PISA 2018, this paper examines the predictors of adolescent subjective well-being (SWB) from a cross-cultural angle. Life satisfaction and affective well-being are found to be most strongly related to perceived meaning in life, self-efficacy, relationship quality, and peer SWB. Analyses by world region reveal several culture-specific explanations for interregional well-being gaps. In particular, low life satisfaction among academically high-performing students from Confucian East Asia is found to be associated with low meaning in life, low self-efficacy, low peer well-being, as well as with high emotional interdependence. In contrast, high life satisfaction among Latin American students can be explained by high peer well-being, high meaning in life, as well as low peer wealth. Limited evidence is also found for a negative relationship between academic performance and life satisfaction. Meanwhile, competition and cooperation among students does only affect life satisfaction of students in collectivistic societies.
Keywords: Subjective well-being; Adolescents; Meaning in life; Culture; Peer happiness
JEL Classification: I30, I31, I21, N30
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