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Family Functioning and Life Satisfaction and Happiness in South African Household

7 August 2013
Publication Type: Working Paper
Economic Theme: Public Finance
JEL Code: D10, Z13

Families form an integral part of society and in fostering individual well-being. Despite the acknowledged importance of family, the association between family functioning and individual well-being outcomes have remained unexplored in the current body of knowledge. This paper explores the association between family functioning and reported levels of life satisfaction and happiness in South Africa. The paper employs the Family Attachment and Changeability Index (FACI8) to measure family functioning, using data from the 2011 South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS 2011). Four measures of family functioning are utilised, namely the aggregate FACI8 scale, the attachment and changeability subscales, and family type. Improvements in the level of family functioning as well as in the levels of attachment and changeability are positively associated with life satisfaction and happiness. In addition, individuals living in midrange or balanced family types aremore satisfied with life and happier compared to persons living in extremely or moderately dysfunctional families. The findings highlight the importance of supportive intra-family dynamics in fostering greater individual well-being. This in turn places emphasis on the investigation of likely correlates of family functioning and impact evaluations of family-focused social work interventions’ impact on family functioning as areas for future research.

Series title: Working paper 363
1 August 2013
Journal: Social Indicators Research
24 October 2013
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