The subjective well-being of the homeless, and lessons for happiness


Biswas-Diener, R., & Diener, E. (2006). The subjective well-being of the homeless, and lessons for happiness. Social Indicators Research, 76(2), 185- 205.


The current study assessed the subjective well-being of a broad spectrum of homeless people. One-hundred-and-eighty-six homeless people from the streets of Calcutta (India), California, and a tent camp in Portland (Oregon) were interviewed, and responded to measures of subjective well-being. They answered questions about life satisfaction, satisfaction with various life domains, and their experience of positive and negative emotions. The mean rating of life satisfaction was slightly negative for both American samples but positive for the pavement dwellers in Calcutta. Satisfaction with self-related domains was positive, whereas satisfaction with material related domains was generally negative. Satisfaction with social domains appears to be the area of largest variation among the groups. We discuss the importance of social factors and basic material needs as they relate to overall subjective well-being of the homeless.

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