Family environment perception during childhood affects “capability for work” and subjective well-being

Urakawa, Kunio (2016). 'Family environment perception during childhood affects “capability for work” and subjective well-being' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract The family environment prevailing during a child's early years is believed to affect feelings of capability of working and well-being later in life. This paper describes an investigation of the relation between a person’s family environment in childhood,the level of the person’s capability for work, and the person’s subjective well-being (SWB) based on the capability approach. The key notion of “capability for work” can be defined as the “real freedom to have the job one has reason to value”. This is used as a yardstick to assess the quality of jobs and the “relevance” of declared job-satisfaction.  Earlier studies have revealed that satisfactory work is healthy for workers and that it provides improved productivity. Elucidating the main factors supporting SWB, such as labor satisfaction, can improve human resource management and labor policy.Moreover, evaluating the “capability for work”is important to verify workers’ social welfare and SWB. “Capability for work”is putatively affected by socioeconomic background in early life. Research in Japan has revealed differences in the average level of labor satisfaction related to gender and labor status after controlling for other covariates.Nevertheless, few studies have used the capability approach for specific examination of the association between family background in childhood, “capability for work,”and SWB such as labor satisfaction.The gap of labor satisfaction between regular and non-regular workers has been examined, but important variables such as academic background were not controlled for. Moreover, the family environment during childhood was not included. The present study was conducted with emphasis on the association of the family environment in childhood with subjective well-being such as labor satisfaction through improvement of “capability for work.” Results of a nationwide internet survey conducted in Japan during February 16–22, 2011 were used for analyses. Age and household income distributions did not differ significantly between subjects and controls. The individual dataset included several variables related to individuals’ perceptions about the individuals’ neighborhoods, subjective well-being, personality traits, and demographic and socioeconomic status, as well as “capability for work.” “Capability for work” variables were chosen based on responses about (1) work discretion, (2) worker opportunity to realize the use of skills, and (3) work variety. Results showed that the childhood socioeconomic environment, such as social status at 15 years old, significantly affected the “capability for work” as well as the current socioeconomic status (SES). Additionally, results show that socioeconomic conditions in childhood affect labor satisfaction indirectly through improvement of “capability for work.” Even after controlling for personality traits and SES, high “capability for work” was positively correlated to a high level of self-rated health and negatively correlated to subjective poverty. Some earlier reports pointed out that the SESs of parents are highly correlated with SESs of children. Enriching policies to improve worker capacity has become a key point for mitigating inequality of educational opportunity. A capability approach offers important perspectives for public policy evaluation.

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