Trajectories of life satisfaction and the financial situation in the transition to adulthood

Mette Ranta, Angela Chow, Katariina Salmela-Aro


The aims of this study were (1) to investigate  young adults’ life satisfaction changes during the transition to adulthood, (2) to identify possible life satisfaction developmental trajectories during the transition, and (3) to examine how individuals’ agency and personal financial situations are related to the identified life satisfaction trajectories in the contexts of life-span and life course theories of development. The present study is part of the longitudinal Finnish Educational Transitions (FinEdu) study, in which a total of 372 (278 female and 94 male) young adults filled in questionnaires at four measurement points, that is, twice before (at 18 and 19 years of age) and twice after (at 20 and 22 years of age) the transition from upper secondary high school to tertiary education and/or employment. Growth Mixture Modelling revealed five trajectories of life satisfaction: low-stable (8%), moderate-stable (41%), high-stable (27%), moderate-increasing (17%), and high-decreasing (7%). The vast majority (76%) of young adults had a stable life satisfaction trajectory throughout the transition. High levels of achievement approach strategies at age 19 were somewhat related to high-decreasing and high-stable life satisfaction trajectories. In turn, those using achievement avoidance strategies at age 19 were more likely to have low-stable or moderately-increasing life satisfaction trajectories. Positive life satisfaction trajectories were related to being in a positive financial situation at age 22. The two largest trajectories indicated better objective and subjective financial situations than did the other trajectories.


Young Adulthood; Life Satisfaction; Agency; Developmental Trajectories; Longitudinal Study; Financial Situation; Person-Oriented Approach; Growth Mixture Modelling

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