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J Health Soc Behav. 1996 Mar;37(1):44-58.

Objective life circumstances and life satisfaction: results from the course of homelessness study.

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  • 1Social Policy Department RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138, USA.


Relations between objective life circumstances and life satisfaction were examined using structural equation modeling of two waves of data obtained from homeless and mentally ill homeless participants (N = 298) in the Course of Homelessness Study (COH). Cross-sectional analyses revealed that objective indexes of life quality were primarily associated with domain-specific, rather than general, life satisfaction. Results could not be attributed to the covariation of life satisfaction with other indexes of subjective well-being (i.e., psychological symptoms and perceived self-mastery). In addition, significant direct ("causal") cross-lagged effects were found linking initial objective housing status with subsequent income and subsequent satisfaction with housing. By contrast, neither life satisfaction nor any other index of subjective well-being exerted a direct impact on subsequent life quality as assessed by objective indexes. Finally, we found no support for previous claims that perceived self-mastery mediates the impact of objective life circumstances on subsequent life satisfaction. Findings are discussed with reference to the utility of a hierarchical model of life satisfaction that incorporates domain-specific, as well as global, satisfaction.

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