Skip to main content

What Determines Subjective Material Well-Being?

Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS,volume 76)

Abstract

Subjective material well-being is defined in terms of satisfaction with a range economic concerns such as government’s handling of the economy, taxes, the cost of basic necessities, household income, pay and fringe benefits from one’s job, financial security, standard of living, and agreement within the family regarding how money should be spent. Much evidence is available demonstrating the substantial effect of satisfaction with material life on satisfaction with life overall and other life domains. The literature review uncovered a host of antecedents or predictors of subjective material well-being. These antecedents involve two sets of constructs, namely personal factors and contextual factors. Personal factors include socio-demographics (age, gender, education, income, marital status, family structure, etc.); personality traits (self-esteem, etc.) and personality dynamics (compensation, top-down spillover, etc.); needs and need satisfaction (how wealth serve to satisfy different needs), beliefs and mental associations (images of wealthy people); goals and aspirations (income goals and goal attainment); skills, behavior, and resources (financial capability, financial behavior, and lack of financial resources); and values (materialism), lifestyle (consumption), and habits (compulsive consumption). Contextual factors include social comparison (how evaluations of standard of living are influenced by social comparisons), adaptation (how income expectations are adapted by changing circumstances), and changes in the macro economic environment (changes in the rate of unemployment, inflation, economic growth, etc.).

Keywords

  • Subjective material well-being
  • Financial well-being
  • Satisfaction with standard of living
  • Satisfaction with personal wealth
  • Life satisfaction
  • Quality of life
  • Subjective well-being

This chapter is based on and significantly adapted from Sirgy, M. J. (2018). The psychology of material well-being. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 13(2), 273–301.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-05535-6_3
  • Chapter length: 16 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-05535-6
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 3.1

References

  • Ahuvia, A. C. (2001). Individualism/collectivism and cultures of happiness: A theoretical conjecture on the relationship between consumption, culture and subjective well-being at the national level. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3, 23–36.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Andrews, F. M., & Withey, S. B. (1976). Social indicators of well-being: America’s perception of life quality. New York: Plenum Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Belk, R. W. (1985). Materialism: Trait aspects of living in the material world. Journal of Consumer Research, 12, 265–280.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bergler, E. (1951). Money and emotional conflict. Garden City: Doubleday.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berry, R., & Williams, F. (1987). Assessing the relationship between quality of life and marital and income satisfaction: A path analytic approach. Journal of Marriage and Family, 49, 107–116.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Blanchflower, D. G., & Oswald, A. (2000). Well-being over time in Britain and the USA, NBER Working Paper 7487.

    Google Scholar 

  • Campbell, A. (1981). The sense of well-being in America: Recent patterns and trends. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  • Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rodgers, W. L. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cracolici, M. F., Giambona, F., & Cuffaro, M. (2014). Family structure and subjective economic well-being. Social Indicators Research, 118, 433–456.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Day, R. L. (1987). Relationship between life satisfaction and consumer satisfaction. In A. C. Samli (Ed.), Marketing and quality-of-life interface (pp. 289–311). Westport: Greenwood Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Diego-Rosell, P., Tortora, R., & Bird, J. (2016). International determinants of subjective well-being: Living in a subjectively material world. Journal of Happiness Studies (published online).

    Google Scholar 

  • Diener, E. (1994). Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities. Social Indicators Research, 31, 103–157.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Diener, E., & Oishi, S. (2000). Money and happiness: Income and subjective well-being across nations. In E. Diener & E. M. Suh (Eds.), Subjective well-being across cultures. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Diener, E., Sandvik, E., Seidlitz, L., & Diener, M. (1993). The relationship between income and subjective well-being: Relative or absolute? Social Indicators Research, 28, 195–223.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Diener, E., Ng, W., Harter, J., & Arora, R. (2010). Wealth and happiness across the world: Material prosperity predicts life evaluation, while psychosocial prosperity predicts positive feeling. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 143–156.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dolan, P., Peasgood, T., & White, M. P. (2008). Do we really know what makes us happy? A review of the economic literature on factors associated with subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Psychology, 29, 94–122.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Duncan, O. (1975). Does money buy satisfaction? Social Indicators Research, 2, 267–274.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Easterlin, R. (1974). Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. In P. A. David & M. W. Reder (Eds.), Nations and hoseholds in economic growth: Essays in honor of Moses Abramovitz. New York: Academic.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ekici, T., & Koydemir, S. (2016). In come expectations and happiness: Evidence from British panel data. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 11, 539–552.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Fao, U., & Foa, E. (1974). Societal structure of the mind. Springfield: Charles Thomas.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fao, U., & Foa, E. (1980). Resource theory: Interpersonal behaviour as exchange. In Gergen, Greenberg, & Willis (Eds.), Social exchange: Advances in theory and research. New York: Plenum Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fernandes, D., Lynch, J. G., & Netemeyer, R. G. (2014). Financial literacy, financial education, and downstream financial behaviors. Management Science, 60, 1861–1883.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ferrer-I-Carbonell, A. (2005). Income and well-being: An empirical analysis of the comparison income effect. Journal of Public Economics, 89, 997–1019.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Fournier, S., & Richins, M. L. (1991). Some theoretical and popular notions concerning materialism. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 6, 403–414.

    Google Scholar 

  • Furby, L. (1978). Possessions: Toward a theory of their meaning and function throughout the life cycle. In P. B. Baltes (Ed.), Life span development of behavior (Vol. 1). New York: Academic.

    Google Scholar 

  • Furnham, A. (1983). Attributions of affluence. Personality and Individual Differences, 4, 31–40.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Furnham, A., & Lewis, A. (1986). The economic mind: The social psychology of economic behaviour. Brighton: Wheatsheaf/Harvester.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gutter, M., & Copur, Z. (2011). Financial behaviors and financial well-being of college students: Evidence from a national survey. Journal of Family Economic Issues, 32, 699–714.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hafstorm, J. L., & Dunsing, M. M. (1973). Level of living: Factors influencing the homemaker’s satisfaction. Home Economics Research Journal, 2, 119–132.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hagerty, M. R. (1997). Objective QOL and SWB: Cross-national time series tests of livability and comparison theory. In P. B. Meadow (Ed.), Developments in quality-of-life studies (Vol. 1, p. 7). Blacksburg: International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hansen, T., Slagsvold, B., & Moum, T. (2008). Financial satisfaction in old age: A satisfaction paradox or a result of accumulated wealth? Social Indicators Research, 89, 323–347.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Havasi, V. (2013). Financial situation and its consequences on the quality of life in the EU countries. Social Indicators Research, 113, 17–35.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hayo, B., & Seifert, W. (2003). Subjective economic well-being in Eastern Europe. Journal of Economic Psychology, 24, 329–348.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Headey, B., Muffels, R., & Wooden, M. (2008). Money does not buy happiness: Or does it? A reassessment based on the combined effects of wealth, income and consumption. Social Indicators Research, 87, 65–82.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hirschman, E. C. (1992). The consciousness of addiction: Toward a general theory of compulsive consumption. Journal of Consumer Research, 19, 155–179.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hosch, S. J., & Loewenstein, G. F. (1991). Time-inconsistent preferences and consumer self-control. Journal of Consumer Research, 17, 492–507.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Howell, R. T., Kurai, M., & Tam, L. (2013). Money buys financial security and psychological need satisfaction: Testing need theory in affluence. Social Indicators Research, 110, 17–29.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hsieh, C.-M. (2004). Income and financial satisfaction among older adults in the United States. Social Indicators Research, 66, 249–266.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hudders, L., & Pandelaere, M. (2012). The silver lining of materialism: The impact of luxury consumption on subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 411–437.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Inglehart, R. (1971). The silent revolution in Europe: Intergenerational change in post-industrial societies. American Political Science Review, 65, 991–1017.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Inglehart, R. (1977). The silent revolution: Changing values and political styles among Western publics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Inglehart, R. (1979). Value priorities and socioeconomic change. In S. Barnes, M. Kasse, et al. (Eds.), Political action: Mass participation in five western democracies (pp. 305–342). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Inglehart, R. (1990). Culture shift in advanced industrial society. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Inglehart, R., & Rabier, J-R. (1986), Aspirations adapt to situations—But why are the Belgians so much happier than the French? A cross-cultural analysis of subjective quality of life. F. M. Andrews, Research in the quality of life. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Joo, S.-H., & Grable, J. E. (2004). An exploratory framework of the determinants of financial satisfaction. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 25, 25–50.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kapteyn, A., & Wansbeek, T. J. (1982). Empirical evidence on preference formation. Journal of Economic Psychology, 2, 137–154.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kapteyn, A., Wansbeek, T. J., & Buyze, J. (1980). The dynamics of preference formation. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 1, 123–157.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kasser, T. (1997). Two versions of the American dream: Which goals and values make for a high quality of life? Paper presented at the international society for quality-of-life studies conference, Charlotte, North Carolina, November 20–22, 1997.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (1993). The dark side of the American dream: Differential correlates of financial success as a central life aspiration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 410–422.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kwak, H., Zinkhan, G. M., & Crask, M. R. (2003). Diagnostic screener for compulsive buying: Applications to the USA and South Korea. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 37, 161–171.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lane, R. E. (1991). The market experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Larsen, V., Sirgy, M. J., & Wright, N. D. (1999). Materialism: The construct, measures, antecedents, and consequences. Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, 3, 75–107.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lawler, E. E. I. I. I. (1971). Pay and organizational effectiveness: A psychological view. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  • Leelakulthanit, O., Day, R., & Walters, R. (1991). Investigating the relationship between marketing and overall satisfaction with life in a developing country. Journal of Macromarketing, 11, 3–23.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Luft, J. (1957). Monetary value and the perception of persons. Journal of Social Psychology, 46, 245–251.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Malone, K., Stewart, S. D., Wilson, J., & Korsching, P. F. (2010). Perceptions of financial well-being among American women in diverse families. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 31, 63–81.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Meadow, H. L., & Sirgy, M. J. (2008). Developing a measure that captures elderly’s well-being in local marketplace transactions. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 3, 63–80.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Michalos, A., Zumbo, B., & Hubley, A. (2000). Health and the quality of life. Social Indicators Research, 51, 245–286.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Michalos, A. C., Thommasen, H. V., Read, R., Anderson, N., & Zumbo, B. D. (2005). Determinants of health and the quality of life in the Bella Coola Valley. Social Indicators Research, 72, 1–50.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Mowen, J. C., & Spears, N. (1999). Understanding compulsive buying among college students. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 8, 407–430.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Natataajan, R., & Goff, B. G. (1992). Manifestations of compulsiveness in the consumer-marketplace domain. Psychology and Marketing, 9, 31–44.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Netemeyer, R. G., Warmath, D. Fernnandes, D., & Lynch, J. Jr. (2017). How am I doing? Perceived financial well-being, its potential antecedents, and its relation to overall well-being. Journal of Consumer Research (published online).

    Google Scholar 

  • Ng, W. (2015). Processes underlying links to subjective well-being: Material concerns, autonomy, and personality. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16, 1575–1591.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Nickerson, C., Schwarz, N., Diener, E., & Kahneman, D. (2003). Zeroing in on the dark side of the American dream: A closer look at the negative consequences of the goal for financial success. Psychological Science, 14, 531–536.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Nickerson, C., Schwarz, N., & Diener, E. (2007). Financial aspirations, financial success, and overall life satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8, 467–515.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Norvilitis, J. M., Szablicki, P. B., & Wilson, S. D. (2003). Factors influencing levels of credit card debt in college students. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33, 935–947.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • O’Guinn, T. C., & Faber, R. J. (1989). Compulsive buying: A phenomenological exploration. Journal of Consumer Research, 16, 147–157.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Olson, G. I., & Schober, B. I. (1993). The satisfied poor. Social Indicators Research, 28, 173–193.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • O’Neill, B., Sorhaindo, B., Xiao, J. J., & Garman, E. T. (2005). Financially distressed consumers: Their financial practices, financial well-being, and health. Financial Counseling and Planning, 16, 73–87.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ozer, D. J., & Benet-Martínez, V. (2006). Personality and the prediction of consequential outcomes. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 401–421.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Plagnol, A. C., & Easterlin, R. A. (2008). Aspirations, attainments, and satisfaction: Life cycle differences between American women and men. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 601–619.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Richards, L. (2016). For whom money matters less: Social connectedness as a resilience resource in the UK. Social Indicators Research, 125, 509–535.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Richins, M. L. (1987). Media materialism and human happiness. In M. Wallendorf & P. Anderson (Eds.), Advances in consumer research (Vol. 14, pp. 352–356). Ann Arbor: Association for Consumer Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Richins, M. L., & Dawson, S. (1992). A consumer values orientation for materialism and its measurement: Scale development and validation. Journal of Consumer Research, 19, 303–316.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Rindfleisch, A., Burroughs, J. E., & Denton, F. (1997). Family structure, materialism, and compulsive consumption. Journal of Consumer Research, 23, 312–325.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Roberts, J. A. (2011). Shiny objects: Why we spend money we don’t have in search of happiness we can’t buy. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roberts, J. A., & Jones, E. (2001). Money attitudes, credit card use, and compulsive buying among American college students. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 35, 213–240.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Roberts, J. A., & Tanner, J. F., Jr. (2005). Materialism and family structure-stress relation. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 15, 183–190.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Roberts, B. W., Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. E. (2003a). Work experiences and personality development in young adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 582–593.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Roberts, J. A., Manolis, C., & Tanner, J. F., Jr. (2003b). Family structure, materialism, and compulsive consumption: A reinquiry and extension. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 31, 300–311.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Rubenstein, C. (1981). Money, self-esteem, relationships, secrecy, envy, satisfaction. Psychology Today, 15(May), 29–44.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schactel, E. G. (1962). Alienated concepts of identity. In E. Josephson & M. Josephson (Eds.), Man Alone. New York: Dell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schyns, P. (2001). Income and satisfaction in Russia. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2, 173–204.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Seghieri, C., Desantis, G., & Tanturri, M. L. (2006). The richer, the happier? An empirical investigation in selected European countries. Social Indicators Research, 79, 455–476.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Shim, S., Xiao, J. J., Barber, B. L., & Lyons, A. C. (2009). Pathways to life success: A conceptual model of financial well-being for young adults. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30, 708–723.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sirgy, M. J. (1998). Materialism and quality of life. Social Indicators Research, 43, 227–260.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sirgy, M. J. (2018). The psychology of material well-being. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 13, 273–301.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sirgy, M. J., Lee, D.-J., Kosenko, R., Meadow, H. L., Rahtz, D., Cicic, M., Jin, G. X., Yarsuvat, D., Blenkhorn, D., & Wright, N. (1998). Does television viewership play a role in the perception of quality of life? Journal of Advertising, 27, 125–142.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sirgy, M. J., Gurel-Atay, E., Webb, D., Cicic, M., Husic-Mehmedovic, M., Ekici, A., Hermann, A., Hegazy, I., Lee, D.-J., & Johar, J. S. (2013). Is materialism all that bad? Effects on satisfaction with material life, life satisfaction, and economic motivation. Social Indicators Research, 110, 349–366.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Tay, L., Batz, C., Parrigon, S., & Kuykendall, L. (2017). Debt and subjective well-being: The other side of the income-happiness coin. Journal of Happiness Studies, 18, 903–937.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Veenhoven, R. (1991). Is happiness relative? Social Indicators Research, 24, 1–34.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Vera-Toscano, E., Ateca-Amestoy, V., & Serrano-Del-Rosal, R. (2006). Building financial satisfaction. Social Indicators Research, 77, 211–243.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Vlaev, I., & Elliott, A. (2014). Financial well-being components. Social Indicators Research, 118, 1103–1123.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Vosloo, W., Fouche, J., & Barnard, J. (2014). The relationship between financial efficacy, satisfaction with remuneration and personal financial well-being. International Business and Economics Research Journal, 13, 1455–1470.

    Google Scholar 

  • Watson, J. J. (2003). The relationship of materialism to spending tendencies, savings, and debt. Journal of Economic Psychology, 24, 723–739.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Wright, N., & Larsen, V. (1993). Materialism and life satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction, and Complaining Behavior, 6, 158–165.

    Google Scholar 

  • Xiao, J. J., Sorhaindo, B., & Garman, E. T. (2006). Financial behavior of consumers in credit counseling. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 30, 108–121.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Xiao, J. J., Tang, C., & Shim, S. (2009). Acting for happiness: Financial behaviour and life satisfaction of college students. Social Indicators Research, 92, 53–68.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Xiao, J. J., Chen, C., & Chen, F. (2014). Consumer financial capability and financial satisfaction. Social Indicators Research, 118, 415–432.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Zuzanek, J. (2013). Does being well-off make us happier? Problems of measurement. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14, 795–815.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. Joseph Sirgy .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2019 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Sirgy, M.J. (2019). What Determines Subjective Material Well-Being?. In: Brulé, G., Suter, C. (eds) Wealth(s) and Subjective Well-Being. Social Indicators Research Series, vol 76. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-05535-6_3

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-05535-6_3

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-05534-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-05535-6

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)