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Journal Article

Longitudinal evidence for reciprocal effects between life satisfaction and job satisfaction


Publication date

01 Jun 2020


The evidence for a correlation between life satisfaction and job satisfaction is strong; however, it is mostly based on cross-sectional results, which precludes establishing valid causal links between work and well-being. Limited longitudinal research suffers from relatively small sample sizes, narrow focus on a particular professional or national group, and differences in the lags between the waves of data examined. We address these issues by using three national, representative longitudinal studies with up to 30 years of repeated annual measurements of job satisfaction and life satisfaction. Using data from 216,573 individuals and applying panel vector autoregression models, we seek to establish whether, and to what extent, job satisfaction influences subsequent life satisfaction and life satisfaction has a concurrent impact on subsequent job satisfaction. Our findings corroborate that life satisfaction and job satisfaction are positively and reciprocally related, as in the spillover theory, and that life satisfaction influences job satisfaction more strongly than vice versa. The magnitude of the impact is found to be population-specific and time sensitive, with the highest effect in the subsequent year and with statistically significant effects lasting even up to 5 years. Gender, age, education, and household member status were found to differentiate the strength of the relationship.

Published in

Journal of Happiness Studies





Psychology, Labour Market, Well Being, and Health


Not held in Hilary Doughty Research Library - bibliographic reference only; Online Early


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