The relationship between subjective well-being and domain satisfactions in South Africa

Møller, V. and Saris, W.E. (2001) The relationship between subjective well-being and domain satisfactions in South Africa. Social Indicators Research, 55 (1). pp. 97-114. ISSN 0303-8300



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This paper examines the relationship between subjective well-being and domain satisfactions. In the past different models have been specified. The most commonly applied model is the bottom-up model in which domain satisfactions affect subjective well-being. The more recent top-down model suggests a reversed relationship. Finally there is the supposition that the correlations between these variables can be spurious due to the effect of personality characteristics. Empirical research has shown that different models are found for different domains and in different countries. Focussing on the effects of the domain satisfactions of finances, housing and social contacts it has been found that subjective well-being is mainly affected by satisfaction with social contacts in Western developed countries and by satisfaction with finances in East European countries. The question we should like to answer in this study is whether a similar pattern obtains for the factors which influence subjective well-being among the different race groups in South Africa. Interestingly, coloured people and Asians did indeed show the expected effects but the groups with the most extreme living conditions did not. Evaluation of life circumstances by black and white South Africans was determined by expectations for the future rather than by current living conditions. This surprising result is discussed in the light of the political situation in South Africa.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:The original publication is available at
Uncontrolled Keywords:quality of life; socioeconomic status; subjective well-being; domain satisfactions; living conditions; social indicators; South Africa
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Research Institutes and Units > Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER)
ID Code:689
Deposited On:05 Jun 2007
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:18
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