Factors Affecting Adolescent Happiness in the United States


Doerle, Samuel M.; Jasti, Vivek V.; & Adams, Richard E. (2017). Factors Affecting Adolescent Happiness in the United States. Undergraduate Symposium on Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity. Kent State University.


The pursuit of happiness is a guaranteed right in the U.S. Constitution, yet teenage happiness is relatively understudied. Several key variables have been previously identified as possible causative agents of teenage happiness: parental relationships, friendship quality, and religiosity. We hypothesize that substance use and deviant behaviors act as the pathway through which parental relationships and religiosity positively affect adolescent happiness. We used data from the 1994 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (ADD Health). The survey contained >6000 adolescent respondents from U.S. private and public schools with a total response rate of 79%. Our dependent variable, happiness, was created as an index from the following items: suicidal tendency, depression, and life satisfaction, with higher scores indicating greater relative happiness. The independent variables included in the analysis were biological sex, age, race, religiosity, parental relationship quality, hours of sleep, exercise per week, friendship quality, deviance, substance use, and self-reported general health. Several multivariate linear regressions were estimated to determine the independent effects of substance use and deviance on adolescent happiness and how these effects potentially mediate those of religiosity and parental relationships. The analysis shows a positive association from parental relationships and religiosity on happiness. The results show that when substance use and deviance are added to the regression, the impact of parental relationships and religiosity on the happiness index are reduced. These findings indicate that parents have the greatest effect on their adolescent’s happiness when they help their children avoid social deviance and substance use.



Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

Undergraduate Symposium on Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity


Doerle, Samuel M.
Jasti, Vivek V.
Adams, Richard E.

Year Published


City of Publication

Kent State University

Reference ID