The relative importance of health, income and social relations for subjective well-being: An integrative analysis
There is much evidence that health, income and social relationships are important for our well-being, but little evidence on their relative importance. This study makes an integrative analysis of the relative influence of health related quality of life (HRQoL), household income and social relationships for subjective well-being (SWB), where SWB is measured by the first three of the five items on the satisfaction with life scale (SWLS). In a comprehensive 2012 survey from six countries, seven disease groups and representative healthy samples (N = 7933) reported their health along several measures of HRQoL. A Shapley value decomposition method measures the relative importance of health, income and social relationships, while a quantile regression model tests how the effects of each of the three predictors vary across different points of SWB distributions. Results are compared with the standard regression. The respective marginal contribution of social relationships, health and income to SWB (as a share of goodness-of-fit) is 50.2, 19.3 and 7.3% when EQ-5D-5L is used as a measure of health. These findings are consistent across models based on five alternative measures of HRQoL. The influence of the key determinants varied significantly between low and high levels of the SWB distribution, with health and income having stronger influence among those with relatively lower SWB. Consistent with several studies, income has a significantly positive association with SWB, but with diminishing importance.
Published version available in Social Science and Medicine. 2016;152:176-185. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.01.046