Happiness in Japan: A Hierarchical Age-Period-Cohort Analysis Based on JGSS Cumulative Data 2000–2015

Part of the Quality of Life in Asia book series (QLAS, volume 13)


The purpose of this paper is to examine factors affecting the happiness of Japanese people based on the JGSS cumulative data 2000–2015. JGSS is a repeated cross-sectional survey conducted once a year or every other years. Analyzing the pooled data of JGSS makes it possible to examine the cohort effect and period effect. In addition, we can achieve more generalized findings by examining the effect of variables at the individual level while controlling for the effect of cohorts and periods. We employed a hierarchical Age-Period-Cohort Analysis because individuals are nested within two social contexts: period (time points of surveys) and cohort (birth cohorts with 5-year interval). The period and the cohort were set at the group level, age and other independent variables predicting happiness were set at the individual level. The results of our analysis revealed that (1) the age effect followed a U-shaped curve, (2) happiness declined in 2003, (3) happiness was low in 1935–1939 birth cohort, (4) original social stratum and social opportunities in the early period of life affected happiness over the life course, (5) subjective relative household income had a stronger relation with happiness than equivalent household income, (6) working status and marital status have a different effect on happiness between men and women.


JGSS Age-Period-Cohort analysis Happiness Japan Gender difference 



The Japanese General Social Surveys (JGSS) are designed and carried out by the JGSS Research Center at Osaka University of Commerce (Joint Usage/Research Center for Japanese General Social Surveys accredited by Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), in collaboration with the Institute of Social Science at the University of Tokyo. JGSS-2015 is financially assisted by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 26245060. This study received funding from MEXT’s Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (Young Researcher (B) 21730434).


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.JGSS Research Center, Osaka University of CommerceHigashi-osakaJapan

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