Family Support, Family Income, and Happiness: A 10-Year Perspective

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Abstract

This study examined the role of 2 central aspects of family life—income and social support—in predicting concurrent happiness and change in happiness among 274 married adults across a 10-year period. The authors used hierarchical linear modeling to investigate the relationship between family income and happiness. Income had a small, positive impact on happiness, which diminished as income increased. In contrast, family social support, measured by 3 subscales, Cohesion, Expressiveness, and Conflict, showed a substantial, positive association with concurrent happiness, even after controlling for income. Furthermore, family income moderated the association between family social support and concurrent happiness; family social support was more strongly associated with happiness when family income was low than when family income was high. In addition, change in family social support was positively related to change in happiness, whereas change in family income was unrelated to change in happiness. These findings suggest that happiness can change and underscore the importance of exploring more deeply the role that family relationships play in facilitating such change.

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