Demographic events, wealth and happiness: a biographic perspective

Olivia Ekert-Jaffe, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

A person’s wealth can be characterized by the association of the incomes and the financial capital and real estate which are in his possession. However the eventual link between happiness and wealth. depends on the structure of a person’s incomes, the size of his family, his projects, his housing etc, that can influence the perception a person has of his wealth . In fact, it is this perception of the wealth, based on the adequacy between the person’s material needs and the resources, which is likely to influence the feeling of happiness of a person. This paper is aimed at exploring the influence of demographic events – couple formation and dissolution, births of children, death of family members- on the link between happiness and wealth perception. We use the survey "Biographie et entourage" carried out by the INED in 2001. A population of 2830 individuals, aged from 50 to 70 were questioned on their family, social, residential and professional history. Each person surveyed provided an estimation of their wellbeing and financial satisfaction at key stages in their life . The first results shows the role of demographic events. It is shown that the evaluations of well being and welfare are significantly correlated, both at a given time and in a dynamic approach: when well-being perception improves, welfare perception is more likely to improve as well. Moreover, when studying the distance between the two sequences (well-being and welfare), we see that it concentrates on low values. Beyond that, the distance is all the higher with the incidence of familial “tragedy” such as the death of one’s child, the death of one’s parent while being less than 20, a divorce, separation or widowhood. Thus, well-being and welfare are all the less connected as one has lived painful, non material, events.

Presented in Session 77: Children's Well-Being and Household Characteristics