Life Satisfaction among Different Groups of Children: Self-Reports, Differential Scale Usage and Anchoring Vignettes

  • Hana VonkovaEmail author


The valid measurement of children’s life satisfaction is key for subsequent analysis and policy recommendations. It has been demonstrated that individuals use different scales in (self-)reports which leads to misleading results. In this study we focus on the analysis of life satisfaction self-reports among children with differences in the following characteristics: family, school, and free-time activities. Using the anchoring vignette method, we analyze differences in response scale usage among the groups and the impact of these differences on the comparison of life satisfaction among the groups. Our sample (N = 3737) is a representative sample of 5th graders (11 year-olds) in the Czech Republic. After adjustment for differential scale usage, children’s life satisfaction is significantly positively related to being female, having a father at home, having good school grades, spending time with friends and the level of education they expect to attain. It is significantly negatively linked to preparing for hard admission exams and time spent playing computer games. The adjustment for response scale differences substantially changes the comparison of different groups. The most significant change is for gender – after correction girls’ life satisfaction is significantly higher while before correction it is the opposite. Before adjustment the differences between some groups are underestimated – children with excellent grades, living with their father and spending at least some time with friends have a higher level of life satisfaction after adjustment in comparison to other children. We recommend examining the differences in scale usage among different cultures, countries and groups in children’s life satisfaction research.


Life satisfaction Children Family School results Free-time activities Anchoring vignette method 



This study was supported by a grant by the Czech Science Foundation through the project “The relationships between skills, schooling and labor market outcomes: a longitudinal study” (P402/12/G130).

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EductionCharles UniversityPrague 1Czech Republic

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