Experiencing conflicts and financial difficulties during childhood, and the relation to subjective well-being later as adults
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Article I: Experiencing conflicts and financial difficulties during childhood, and the relation to subjective well-being. Improving health for the upcoming generations across the world requires evidence based knowledge, increased insight, financial commitment and available resources to invest in actions aiming to improve these areas of health. Actions aiming to improve children’s health has the potential to save society and the individual for major expenses compared with actions towards adults. Granting value and respect to peoples own evaluation of life has shown to be a good indicator of the persons’ health status, and such an assessment is called subjective wellbeing. The review has gathered previous research aiming to confirm or reject the following hypothesis: “Experiencing conflicts and economical challenges during childhood is related to reduced subjective wellbeing”. Based on previous research the hypothesis was confirmed. Experiencing economic challenges can increase levels of stress, concerns and conflicts at home. This can further have a negative impact on ways of parenting, with the possible cost of the child developing behavior problems like depression, school problems and antisocial behavior, and further lower levels of SWB. One can therefore argue that conflicts at home decreases parts of the social support the individual needs. Looking at the hypothesis in a broader perspective, social support and income were the two factors with greatest influence on SWB. Lower levels of income and social support were negatively related to SWB in contrast to high levels of income and social support. Social support is critical for well-being, which highlights the importance of social engagement in children and adolescence. Political actions aiming to support parents handling parenthood, and reducing social inequalities, can therefore be preventive for negative development of children’s SWB. Since disadvantage in early life makes an important contribution to poor health in adulthood, these actions can both have an immediate and a long-lasting effect. Actions aiming to improve SWB has the potential to improve human health, social relations, participation in working life, coping with crises at national level, healthier reactions to stress and many other beneficial outcomes. In future research one can look at the relation between conflicts and economic challenges during childhood and SWB later as adult, a link which is barely looked at in research so far.Article II: Experiencing severe financial difficulties and serious conflict in the household during childhood, and the relation to subjective well-being later as adults. Background: Disadvantage from early life makes an important contribution to poor health in adulthood. From previous research one can see that conflicts or economic challenges might lead to a more unfortunate way of parenting, with the possible cost of the child developing behavior problems like depression, school problems and antisocial behavior. Behavioral problems are associated with lower levels of SWB. Previous research has barley explored the relation between conflicts and economic challenges during childhood and SWB later as adult. Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether experiencing severe financial difficulties and serious conflict during childhood, were related to lower levels of SWB later as adults. The European Social Survey (ESS) round 7, counts happiness and life satisfaction as the two subjective parts of well-being. This has led to the following hypothesis “Experiencing serious conflicts or severe financial difficulties most of the time during childhood, increases occurrence of reporting unhappiness and dissatisfaction later as adult”. Method: In this quantitative study, data from the European Social Survey round 7 were analyzed using binary logistic regression. 40.185 informants from 21 countries across Europe participated. Subjective well-being was measured through the questions: “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole nowadays?” and “Taking all things together, how happy would you say you are?”. Childhood circumstances was measured through the questions: “Using this card, please tell me how often there was serious conflict between the people living in your household when you were growing up?”, and “Using the same card, please tell me how often you and your family experienced severe financial difficulties when you were growing up?” . For the purposes of analyses, responses to questions regarding happiness and life satisfaction were dichotomized to indicate poor scores as approximately <1 standard deviation (SD) below the mean. Regarding the questions about childhood circumstances, the answers ´always´ and ´often´ both indicate that financial difficulties/ serious conflicts were present most of the time and was therefore coded together The results were tested for possible confounding variables as age, gender and education. Results: Informants who experienced severe financial difficulties during childhood were three times as likely to be unhappy and dissatisfied with life later as adults(Odds Ratio 3.10; 95 % Confidenec Intervall (CI) = 2.84- 3.39), compared to the ones who didn’t experience financial difficulties. The informants who experienced serious conflicts during childhood were twice as likely to be unhappy and dissatisfied with life later as adults (OR 2.29; 95 % CI= 2.07- 2.52), compared to the ones that didn’t experience serious conflict. Conclusion: Experiencing severe financial difficulties and serious conflict during childhood increases significantly the occurrence of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life later as adults. Future research should investigate this connection in a longitudinal study.