9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Embodiment, Emotions and Health I Building I, 1E2

The Role of Education and Generalized Trust for Psychological Well-Being in West-Europe

The present paper aims to empirically investigate the role of an actor?s generalized trust and education for an actor?s psychological well-being under the conditions of several West-European welfare state regimes. The state of psychological well-being means in this study how happy and satisfied person is. To answer the study questions we analyze actors? production of psychological well-being through developing models based on the insights and concepts from several sociological theories (Lindenberg, 2001; Coleman, 1990). The main proposition in this study is that an actor?s education and generalized trust have a beneficial influence on the psychological well-being. Recent empirical studies have shown the presence of positive effects of personal education on the psychological well-being: people have reduced psychological well-being if they are lower educated (Helliwell & Putnam, 2005). The effects of personal education on psychological well-being can be either direct or indirect. Generalized trust, which means the belief that others around you can be trusted, could well be a mediator here, because on the one hand generalized trust facilitates psychological well-being (Helliwell & Putnam, 2005), and on the other hand it is determined by the years of education (Helliwell & Putnam, 1999). Our study model predicts that the effect of personal education on the psychological well-being is mediated by the actor?s generalized trust. Subsequently, we hypothesize that less educated persons are less trusting than their more educated counterparts, and that those actors who are less trusting are more likely to have reduced psychological well-being. Moreover, we consider the possibility that people?s perceptions of well-being and generalized trust could also be influenced by certain characteristics of the environment in which an actor is embedded, some of which could facilitate or hinder actors? well-being and trust (Coleman, 1990). To test the study hypotheses the data are employed from the cross-national European Social Survey performed in 2004/5. The countries included in the present analysis are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The statistical analyses of the data, using multilevel analyses, provide support for a number of the study predictions.