Are adult learners in Europe happier than non-learners? Statistical evidence from the European Social Survey

Boeren, E. (2021) Are adult learners in Europe happier than non-learners? Statistical evidence from the European Social Survey. European Educational Research Journal, (doi: 10.1177/14749041211014608) (Early Online Publication)

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This paper borrows insights from the literature on European welfare regimes to analyse the relationship between happiness and participation in adult education. The academic literature and policy discourses on adult education tend to claim that participation in learning is correlated with happiness despite the lack of strong European comparative empirical evidence on this topic. This paper uses data from the latest Wave of the European Social Survey to analyse the happiness perceptions of nearly 20,000 adults between the ages of 25 and 64 who live in 16 European countries (15 European Union countries and the United Kingdom). Results indicate that while adult learners on average tend to be happier than non-learners, this correlation weakens when controlling for determinants of participation and happiness and for the countries in which these adults live. Confirming the importance of welfare regimes, this study found that adults in Finland tend to be happier than those in other countries, regardless of their participation in adult education. Happiness scores were lowest in Bulgaria and Hungary, countries with low participation rates in adult education and with the biggest differences in happiness scores between learners and non-learners. It is argued that the presence of well-structured adult learning provision might be an important characteristic of welfare regimes but that happiness is determined by much more than being an adult learner.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Boeren, Professor Ellen
Authors: Boeren, E.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Journal Name:European Educational Research Journal
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1474-9041
Published Online:24 May 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Author
First Published:First published in European Educational Research Journal 2021
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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