Workers’ Happiness: An Analysis of the Value of Family and Work among Generational Cohorts

  • Charamporn Holumyong Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University
  • Sureeporn Punpuing Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University
Keywords: Happiness, work and family, work-life balance, job satisfaction, family satisfaction


This study investigates the influences of job and family satisfaction on industrial workers’ happiness and observes the role of generational cohorts. The findings show the positive influence of job and family satisfaction on happiness for all generations. However, demographic diversity exists regarding how workers value their work and family lives. Applying utility theory, the level of marginal rate of substitution (MRS) of family satisfaction for job satisfaction is shown to differ by generational cohorts. Even though job and family satisfaction are abstract concepts which cannot be perfectly substituted by other things, differing MRS levels offer insights into how each generation values family and work. Compared to other generations, the value of work is relatively high for Generation X workers. On the other hand, this study suggests Generation Y workers place the highest value on family when compared to older generations.


Download data is not yet available.


Achor, S. (2012).Positive intelligence. Harvard Business Review, 90(1), 100-102.

Angeles, L. (2010). Children and life satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11(4), 523-538.

Baltes, P. B. &Baltes, M. M. (1990). Psychological perspectives on successful aging: The model of selective optimization with compensation. In P. B. Baltes& M. M. Baltes (Eds.), Successful Aging, (pp. 1-34).
Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Becker, G.S. (1965).A theory of the allocation of time. Economic Journal, 75, 493-517.

Becker, G. S. (1985). Human capital, effort, and the sexual division of labor. Journal of Labor Economics, S33-S58.

Beekman, T. (2011). Fill in the generation gap. Strategic Finance, 93(3), 15-17.

Boehm, J.K. &Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Does happiness promote career success? Journal of Career Assessment, 16(1), 101-116.

Bruce, W. M. & Blackburn, J. W. (Eds.). (1992). Balancing job satisfaction & performance: A guide for human resource professionals. Westport, CT: Praeger Pub Text.

Bruni, L. &Zamagni, S. (2007). Civil economy: Efficiency, equity, public happiness (Vol. 2). Berne, Switzerland: Peter Lang.

Bunbongkarn, S. (1992). Thailand in 1991: Coping with military guardianship. Asian Survey, 131-139.

Burke, R. J. & Cooper, C. L. (2008).Building more effective organizations: HR management and performance in practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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

Cantril, H. (1965).The pattern of human concerns. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Carstensen, L. L. (1992). Social and emotional patterns in adulthood: Support for socioemotional selectivity theory. Psychology and Aging, 7(3), 331-338.

Chimote, N. K. & Srivastava, V. N. (2013). Work-life balance benefits: From the perspective of organizations and employees. The IUP Journal of Management Research, 12(1), 62-73.

Cennamo, L. & Gardner, D. (2008). Generational differences in work values, outcomes, and person-organisation values fit. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23, 891-906.

Cohen, S. & Wills, T. A. (1985).Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98(2), 310-357.

Cohen, T. F. (1993). What do fathers provide? Reconsidering the economic and nurturant dimensions of men as parents. In J. C. Hood (Ed.), Men, work, and family (pp. 1-22). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Collins, J. (1998). Why we must keep Baby Boomers working. New Zealand Business, 12(8), 53.

Costa, P. T., Herbst, J. H., McCrae, R. R. &Siegler, I. C. (2000). Personality at midlife: Stability, intrinsic maturation, and response to life events. Assessment, 7(4), 365-378.

Deal, J. J. (2007).Retiring the generation gap: How employees young and old can find common ground (Vol. 35). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

Diener, E. & Lucas, R.E. (1999).Personality and subjective well-being, In D. Kahneman, E. Diener & N. Schwarz (Eds.) Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 213-229). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Dixon, H. D. (1997).Economics and happiness. The Economic Journal, 107, 1812-1814.

Duncan, G. (2005). What do we mean by" happiness"? The relevance of subjective wellbeing to social policy. Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, 25, 16.

Easterlin, R. A. (2001). Income and happiness: Towards a unified theory. Economic Journal, 111, 465-484.

Easterlin, R. A. (2003).Building a better theory of well-being. IZA Discussion Paper No. 742.

Fisher, C. D. (2010). Happiness at work. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(4), 384-412.

Frey, B. S. (2008). Happiness: A revolution in economics. London: MIT Press Books.

Frey, B. S. & Stutzer, A. (2000). Maximising happiness? German Economic Review, 1(2), 145-167.

Frone, M. R. (2003).Work-family balance. In J. C. Quick & L. E. Tetrick (Eds.), Handbook of occupational health psychology (pp. 143-162). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Gilbert, J. (2011). The millennials: A new generation of employees, a new set of engagement policies. Ivey Business Journal, 4. Retrieved from /

Gilligan, C. (1979).Woman's place in man's life cycle. Harvard Educational Review, 49(4), 431-446.

Glass, J. & Fujimoto, T. (1994).Housework, paid work, and depression among husbands and wives. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 35, 179-191.

Heckscher, A. (1962). The public happiness. New York: Atheneum.

Helliwell, J. F. & Huang, H. (2010). How’s the job? Well-being and social capital in the workplace. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 63(2): 205-227.

Helliwell, J. F., Layard, R. & Sachs, J. (2012).World happiness report. New York: Earth Institute, Columbia University.

House, J. S. (1981). Work, stress, and social support. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Howe, N. & Strauss, W. (1992). The new generation gap. The Atlantic. 270(6).67-89.

Judge, T. A. & Watanabe, S. (1994).Individual differences in the nature of the relationship between job and life satisfaction. Journal of Occupational and
Organizational Psychology, 67, 101-107.

Kahneman, D. (1999). Objective happiness. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener & N. Schwarz (Eds.). Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Kahneman, D., Krueger, A.B., Schkade, D., Schwartz, N. & Stone, A.A. (2004).Toward national well-being accounts. American Economic Review, 94(2), 429-434.

Kaldor, N. (1939).Welfare propositions of economics and interpersonal comparisons of utility. The Economic Journal, 549-552.

Kaylene, C. W. & Robert, A. P. (2011). Marketing to the generations. Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, 3, 1-17.

Kim, H., Knight, D. K. &Crutsinger, C. (2009). Generation Y employees’ retail work experience: The mediating effect of job characteristics. Journal of Business Research, 62, 548-556.

Kupperschmidt, B.R. (2000). Multigenerational employees: Strategies for effective management. The Health Care Manager, 19(1), 65-76.

Layard, R. (2006). Happiness and public policy: A challenge to the profession. The Economic Journal, 116(510), C24-C33.

Ledford, G. E. (1999). Happiness and productivity revisited. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 20(1), 25-30.<25::aid-job913>;2-k

Levinson, D. J. (1978). The seasons of a man's life. New York: Knopf.

Mankiw, N. G. (2012). Principles of microeconomics. Stamford: Cengage Learning.

Meier, J., Austin, S. & Crocker, M. (2010). Generation Y in the workforce: Managerial challenges. The Journal of Human Resource and Adult Learning. 6(1), 68-78.

Moen, P. (1992).Women’s two roles: A contemporary dilemma. New York: Auburn House.

Morse, G., Gilbert, D. &Killingsworth, M. (2012). The science behind the smile: An interview with Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert. Harvard Business Review, 90(1), 85-90

Myers, D. & Diener, E. (1995). Who is happy? Psychological Science, 6, 10-19.
Norum, P. S. (2003).Examination of generational differences in household apparel expenditures. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 32(1): 52-75.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2008). Handbook on Constructing Composite Indicators: Methodology and User Guide.

Oswald, A.J., Eugenio, P. & Daniel, S. (2009). Happiness and productivity. IZA discussion papers. 4645.

Peiró, A. (2006). Happiness, satisfaction and socio-economic conditions: Some international evidence. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 35(2), 348-365.

Parasuraman, S. &Greenhaus, J. H. (2002).Toward reducing some critical gaps in work family research. Human Resource Management Review, 12, 299-312.

Phongpaichit, P. & Baker, C. (1999).The political economy of the Thai crisis. Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, 4(1), 193-208.

Prasartkul, P. (2015). Glossary of terms in population and social research. Nakhon Pathom, Thailand: Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University. (in Thai) Retrieved from

Regnier, P. (2009). Oh, to be young again (for real). Money, 38(9), 124.

Roberts, B. W., Walton, K. E. & Viechtbauer, W. (2006). Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 132(1), 1.

Rosen, B. &Jerdee, T. H. (1976).The nature of job-related age stereotypes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 61(2), 180.

Rosen, B. &Jerdee, T. H. (1985).Older employees: New roles for valued resources. Homewood, Ill: Dow Jones-Irwin.

Rothbard, M. N. (1977). Toward a reconstruction of utility and welfare economics (No. 3). San Francisco: Center for Libertarian Studies.

Roxburgh, S. (2004). There just aren’t enough hours in the day: The mental health consequences of time pressure. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 45, 115-131.

Saari, L. M. & Judge, T. A. (2004).Employee attitude and job satisfaction. Human Resource Management, 43(4), 395-407.

Skocpol, T. (1976). France, Russia, China: A structural analysis of social revolutions. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 18(02), 175-210.

Sener, A. (2011).Emotional support exchange and life satisfaction. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 1(2): 79-88.

Smith, J. C. (2013). Pay growth, fairness and job satisfaction: Implications for nominal and real wage rigidity. Working Paper. Coventry, UK: University of Warwick, Department of Economics. Warwick economics research papers series (TWERPS), Volume 2013 (Number 1009)

Strauss, W. & Howe, N. (2006). Millennials and the pop culture. USA: Life Course Associates.

Sugisawa, H. (1993). Difference in impact of social support on morale and medical utilization between elderly with low activity of daily living and elderly with high activity of daily living. Japanese Journal of Public Health, 40(3), 171-180.

Thongthai, V. (2009). “Generation” X Y Z. In C. Podhisita & S. Taweesit (Eds.).Thai Families in the Social and Demographic Transitions. Nakhon Pathom: Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University.

Thurik, R., Hessels, J., Millán, J. M. &Aguado, R. (2011). Determinants of job satisfaction: A European comparison of self-employed and paid employees (No. H201106). EIM Business and Policy Research.

Ungpakorn, J. (1997).The struggle for democracy and social justice in Thailand. Bangkok: Arom Pongpangan Foundation.

Ungpakorn, J. G. (2002). From tragedy to comedy: Political reform in Thailand. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 32(2), 191-205.

Varian, H. R. (2006).Intermediate microeconomics: A modern approach (8thed.). New York: W.W.Norton & Company, Inc.

Varian, H. R. &Repcheck, J. (2010). Intermediate microeconomics: A modern approach (Vol. 7). New York: W.W. Norton& Company, Inc.

Veenhoven, R. (1988). The utility of happiness. Social Indicators Research, 20(4), 333-354.

Weston, M. J. (2006). Integrating generational perspectives in nursing. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 11(2), 1-9.

Winkelmann, L. &Winkelmann, R. (1998). Why are the unemployed so unhappy? Evidence from panel data. Economica, 65(257), 1-15.

Zickuhr, K. (2010).Generations 2010.Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from
How to Cite
Holumyong, C., & Punpuing, S. (2015). Workers’ Happiness: An Analysis of the Value of Family and Work among Generational Cohorts. Social Science Asia, 1(4), 1-18. Retrieved from
Research Article