Social resources and parental well-being: a comparison of Japanese and German parental ego-centric networks

Marina Hennig, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz

The presentation compares the influence of social relations on parental, subjective well-being in Japan and Germany. According to Amartya Sen’s “capability approach”, people’s well-being depends on their opportunities for self-realization. These, in turn, are closely related to the social resources integrated into a network of social relations. In this context, the form taken by the social resources (social capital) and their importance for well-being are closely related here to culture and traditions in question and can, therefore, vary from one society to the next. Although Japan and Germany present structural similarities, Japan’s historical, cultural and religious heritage differs from those of the Western post-industrial societies like Germany. Hence it is assumed that the influence of social capital on parental well-being differs due to the varying cultural and historical significance of social relations in Germany and Japan. To investigate this hypothesis, the egocentric networks of a total of 4186 mothers and fathers in both Japan and Germany were surveyed. The results of the analysis support the hypothesis as they indicate that differences exist between the two countries in relation to the function of social resources and the strength of connections, which play a crucial role in the subjective well-being of parents. Differences also exist within the countries, in particular between men and women and in relation to the influence of social resources and the strength of connection on parental well-being.

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Presented in Session 119: Demographic change, social networks and quality of life