Happy-go-lucky young versus aspiring elderly: Determinants of satisfaction with life among three generations in the emerging consumer and information society of Estonia
Institute of Journalism and Communication University of Tartu Tartu, Estonia
This paper analyses generational continuities and differences in the strength of relationships between one aspect of the quality of life - subjective well-being - and the indicators of the consumer and information society in Estonia. The data derive from a representative population survey Me. The World. The Media, carried out in September to October 2008 (N=1507) among 15-74 year-old respondents.
In general, among other aspects of the consumer and information society, people's subjective well-being is primarily dependent on their material consumption opportunities. The youngest generation of respondents (aged 15-29) differs from middle-aged and older respondents mainly with regard to the fact that several orientations related to consumer and information society (e.g. versatile Internet use, consumerism and attributing importance to brands) are so widespread among them that they are not related to the differences in satisfaction with life within the group. For the younger generation, higher satisfaction with life is related to a lower level of concern regarding the influence of consumer society on young people as well as to an indifferent attitude towards the environment. In the case of the oldest age group (aged 55-74), the subjective well-being is highest among those who are able to and want to exercise environmentally friendly consumption.
We can interpret the relationships between the quality of life and aspects of consumer and information society from the standpoint of social adaptation which gives rise to two types of assessments. On the one hand, fast adaptation to the development of information and consumer society has a positive effect on quality of life in terms of subjective well-being whereas the feeling of "not missing the boat" plays an especially important role in the satisfaction with life of middle-aged and elderly people. On the other hand, there exists the danger of successful adaptation to social changes causing a tendency to take problematic phenomena for granted, thereby bringing about their normalization, especially in the eyes of the youngest generation.