Academic and social success are key points of emphasis for adolescents. Yet, it remains unclear whether competence in these areas during adolescence leads to happiness in adulthood. We also know surprisingly little about the mechanisms by which these factors might influence future quality of life. The present study examined the relative impacts of social and academic success (measured in adolescence) on satisfaction with life approximately 16 years later. In addition, indirect pathways were assessed through life stress and social support in early adulthood. Participants (N = 157) were drawn from a sample of children born to low-income mothers followed from birth through age 39 years. Results showed a direct pathway from adolescent social competence to adult life satisfaction, and no such effect of high school graduation. Neither indirect effect was significant. These results extend and support previous cross-sectional research, and call into question the ability of the present K-12 education system to meet the expectations of modern parents.
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This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD054850), the National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH40864), and the National Institute of Aging (R01AG039453).
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Klein, R.J., Englund, M.M. Developmental Pathways to Adult Happiness: Social Competence and Timely High School Graduation. J Happiness Stud (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-021-00354-9
- Satisfaction with life
- Academic achievement
- Social competence
- Life stress
- Social support