Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2014, 2, 15-23
Published Online August 2014 in SciRes.
How to cite this paper: Karavdic, S. and Baumann, M. (2014) Positive Career Attitudes Effect on Happiness and Life Satis-
faction by Master Students and Graduates. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2, 15-23.
Positive Career Attitudes Effect on
Happiness and Life Satisfaction by Master
Students and Graduates
Senad Karavdic, Michèle Baumann
Institute Health & Behaviour, Integrative Research Unit on Social and Individual Development (INSIDE),
University of Luxembourg, Walferdange, Luxembourg
Email: Michèle.bauma
Received May 2014
Background: Happiness and life satisfaction are well-known indicators. However, there has been
little contribution by the scientific community on the positive career attitudes of master students
and graduates. In an effort to provide deeper empirical understanding, the relationships between
positive career attitudes, health satisfaction, financial situation and happiness and life satisfaction
among master students and graduates were analyzed. Method: A link of online questionnaire was
sent by mail to all students which independently of their social economic status obtained a finan-
cial aid from the government of Luxembourg, and to all master graduates (ex-students) who have
been finished with their courses for one year. The data was analyzed using bivariate tests, correla-
tion and multiple linear regression models. Result: 455 voluntary postgraduate/master students
vs. 144 graduates participated. Students were younger than the graduates (mean age 26 vs. 29
years). Majority was female and had Luxembourgish nationality. Most graduates had a job and
lived with their parents. Luxembourg natives were happier, and those who were living with their
parents showed higher life satisfaction. For both samples, self-rated health satisfaction was posi-
tively associated with happiness and life satisfaction. For the students, the higher career adapta-
bility and career optimism are, the better the happiness and life satisfaction will be. The higher
the perception of the household financial situation is, the better the happiness will be. For gradu-
ates, the higher career optimism contributed to the better happiness. Conclusion: Happiness and
life satisfaction of master students and graduates were affected, related to socioeconomic and
perceived health difficulties, and career attitudes. Those indicators could be used routinely to
monitor the situation of young people over time and their needs in terms of adaptability and op-
timism capabilities, which should be appropriately treated. These findings may help with the de-
velopment of university and post university interventions aimed at improving happiness and life
satisfaction among postgraduate students and ex-students.
University Students, Graduates, Positive Career Attitudes, Happiness, Life Satisfaction
S. Karavdic, M. Baumann
1. Introduction
Happiness and Life Satisfaction are, along with the economic factors of a country, well-known indicators used
in the estimation of a populations’ subjective well-being and their quality of life [1]. The understanding of re-
searchers is that happiness and life satisfaction are identical and can be used interchangeably [2]. Others state
that there is a difference between life satisfaction and happiness showing that they are related but cannot be
treated as identical and the same latent variable [3]. Happiness can be understood as an emotional feeling of
wanting more [4], a presence of positive affect and an absence of negative one, although satisfaction can be seen
as a cognitive evaluation or judgment of ones life and could be perceived as a discrepancy between aspiration
and achievement [5]. In spite of this, Gundelach & Kreiner’s (2004) analysis of the data from the European
Value Survey in nine industrialized countries has shown that happiness and life satisfaction are two different but
related socio-economic determinants [6].
It is obvious that higher level of university education is associated with low levels of unemployment [7] de-
spite the fact jobs in Europe requiring a University achievement, a graduate and postgraduate degree were fur-
ther represented by persons belonging to the later age group in retirement [8]. This professional landscape is
characterized by increasing economic insecurity [9] which may be perceived by university students as a period
of uncertainty and fear [10]. Not being able to find a job and managing that fact by accepting or possibly ac-
cepting a job below their qualifications are the real life preoccupations of students and graduates with post-
graduate studies. In addition, during the late pre-academic time, young students are confronted with examina-
tions and coursework deadlines at the expense of their career outcome. They may display passiveness in their
career attitudes neglecting, career planning allowing them on one hand to make a series of steps for the best
transition and on the other hand develop a series of strategies to face the challenge of a weakened job market
[11]. University students may have socioeconomic difficulties handling their substantial needs [12]. Everyday
stress causes the development of strategies aimed to cope with these problems [13], which may have an impact
on their academic performance, being more prone to depressive situations [14], lower general and mental health
and more hazard health behaviour [15].
Career adaptability and career optimism attitudes are important triggers throughout one's career [16]. Career
adaptability can be understood as an individual’s capability to anticipate a possible novel situation and get ready
in advance for change by acquiring new abilities and strengthening to make a series of successful transitions
where the labour market is in constant change [17]. Career optimism is the perception to which individuals have
a positive disposition about their future career expectations and comfort in performing career planning tasks [18].
Researchers have analyzed the relationships between career attitudes and psychosocial factors that could have an
impact on life satisfaction and happiness. However no studies have considered a postgraduate group during their
transitional period. The aspects of adaptability were negatively associated to concerns, general anxiety and fear
about one’s future career [19]. In contrast, the facet of optimism has been linked to a health-related adjustment
[20], and a positive attitude toward self and one’s life in general [21]. Persons optimistic about their career have
reported greater comfort with their education and career-related plans, as well as engagement in activities that
enhance their career insight [18].
In spite of this “The Centre for Documentation and Information on Higher Education” (CEDIES), in Luxem-
bourg—the smallest country in Europe (531,400 habitants, 2600 km2) with one of the highest gross domestic
product (GDP) per inhabitant [22] provides a financial aid intended for students, prospective students, and peo-
ple who wish to return to higher education in Luxembourg and internationally (EU and no-EU). During and of-
ficial term of studies, each semester, every student who is a resident can benefit from a study grant regardless
the income of the parents/relatives or place/country. It’s also independent of the nationality, age and/or type of
During this period young adults may be vulnerable and they may feel disoriented and unduly affected by their
social-economic and employment situation which may have an impact on their happiness and life satisfaction,
interestingly, their contribution to the career attitudes of master students and graduates has not been well ex-
plored. Happiness and life satisfaction may play an important role in emerging adulthood among university in-
dividuals preparing for the transition to work. In this research, we proposed to compare students and graduates
who have been finished with their studies for one year, because this transitional time could be considered as a
period of adjustment that can be both challenging and exciting. In an effort to provide deeper empirical under-
standing, our objective was to analyze the relationships between career attitudes, perceived health satisfaction,
S. Karavdic, M. Baumann
financial situation and happiness and life satisfaction among master students and graduates.
2. Method
2.1. Population
All postgraduate/master students and first year graduates (ex-students) registered in 2012 and 2013 at the Centre
for Documentation and Information on Higher Education” (CEDIES) which independently of their social eco-
nomic status obtained a financial aid from the government of Luxembourg, were invited by mail to the survey.
2.2. Data Collection
Via information flyer containing information about the aims of the study and a link to the survey. The partici-
pants could directly access the anonymous online questionnaire with a choice of language (French or English).
2.3. Measurement Instruments
Four groups of variables were gathered:
2.3.1. Dependent Variables
Happiness single-item (e.g., How happy do you feel? 1 = not at all happy; 10 = very happy)
Life satisfaction single-item (e.g. How would you rate your life satisfaction? 1 = not at all satisfied, 10 = very
2.3.2. Positive Career Attitud es
Using Career Futures Inventory [18] we selected with a factorial analysis:
Career adaptability (4 items; Cronbachs alpha 0.80) (e.g. I am good at adapting to new work settings; I can
adapt to change my career plans; I can overcome potential barriers that may exist in my work; I can adapt to
change in the world of work) (1 = strongly disagree; 5 = strongly agree).
Career optimism (4 items; Cronbachs alpha 0.74) (e.g. I get excited when I think about my career; I under-
stand my work-related interests; I am unsure of my future career success; I am eager to pursue my career
dreams ) (1 = strongly disagree; 5=strongly agree).
2.3.3. Health Satisfaction
Self-rated health satisfaction [23] was measured with single-item (e.g. Are you satisfied with your health? 1 =
not at all satisfied; 5 = very satisfied).
2.3.4. Demographic Characteristics
Age, sex, nationality (Luxembourg/other nationality), parents’ education level (higher/lower then Bachelor),
type of lodging (with parents/other situation), job (yes/no) and perceived financial household situation (e.g. How
do you evaluate the financial situation of your household? (1 = very poor; 6 = very good).
2.4. Statistical Analysis:
For each variable, all scores were calculated so that a higher score represented a better level. The student and
graduate groups were compared by means of Chi-square tests and Students t-tests. Bivariate correlations were
used for association analyses between the variables. Significant relationships were used in multiple models. Fi-
nally, a moderate regression with the two groups as the categorical variables was carried out to compare the
slope parameters.
3. Results
3.1. Socio-Economic and Health Status
A total of 455 students vs. 144 graduates’ volunteers participated. The students were younger than the graduates
(mean age 26 vs. 29 years). Majority were female and natives of Luxembourg. Mostly graduates have a job and
S. Karavdic, M. Baumann
lived with their parents (Table 1).
3.2. Relations between Socio-Economic, Positive Career Attitudes, Health Satisfaction and
Happiness and Life Satisfaction
Self-rated health satisfaction, career adaptability and career optimism scores were positively related, indicating
better life satisfaction and happiness for better health satisfaction and higher positive career attitudes. With the
happiness score, perceived financial situation was positively linked, for the students, and nationality was nega-
tively associated, for graduates (Table 2).
3.3. Associations between Socio-E conomic, Positive Career Attitudes, Health Satisfaction
and Happiness and Life Satisfaction
The separated models of multiple regressions explained happiness factor (adjusted R-Square) by 31.0% vs. 40.6%
of variance for students and life satisfaction by 32.8% vs. 24.8%, respectively for graduates.
Luxembourger natives were happier, and those who were living with their parents showed higher life satisfac-
tion. For both samples, health satisfaction was positively associated with happiness and life satisfaction scores.
For the students, the higher the career adaptability and career optimism scores, the better the happiness and
self-rated life satisfaction rating. The higher the financial household situation was perceived, the better the hap-
piness score. For the graduates, higher career optimism contributed to better happiness score (Table 3).
4. Discussion
The overall socio-economic profiles of the two volunteer groups differed, the students were younger, less of
them had a job and only a few lived with their parents. Students’ perception of financial situation was associated
Table 1. Socio-economic and health status. % or mean and standard deviation (SD).
N = 455 Graduates
N = 149 p1
Dependant Variables
Happiness [1]-[10]
Life Satisfaction [1]-[10]
7.8 (1.7)
8.0 (1.7)
7.6 (1.7)
7.7 (1.6)
Age: mean (SD)
[min ; max] 26.4 (5.4)
[20; 59] 29.8 (6.8)
[23; 56] 0.000***
40.4 0.000***
Parents education level (>Bachelor)
Perceived financial situation [1] -[6] 4.3 (1.09) 4.6 (1.14) 0.087
Type of lodging (With parents)
Self-rated health Satisfaction [1]-[5] 3.9 (0.9) 4.1 (0.7) 0.096
Positive Career Attitudes
Adaptability [1]-[5]
Optimism [1]-[5]
4.0 (0.6)
3.8 (0.7)
4.1 (0.6)
3.7 (0.6)
1Significant p-value: *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001.
S. Karavdic, M. Baumann
Table 2. Relationships between socio-economic, career attitudes, health satisfaction and Happiness and Life satisfaction
(bivariate tests) - correlation coefficients (Pearson’s correlation).
Happiness [1]-[10]
Life Satisfaction [1]-[10]
Mean (SE1) p2 Graduates
Mean (SE1) p2 Students
Mean (SE1) p2 Graduates
Mean (SE1) p2
Gender Male 7.69 (0.141) 0.203 7.42(.214) 0.685 7.86 (0.129) 0.430 8.16 (0.179) 0.125
Female 7.92 (0.112) 7.57(.279) 7.99 (0.108) 7.67 (0.278)
Lux 7.78 (0.110) 0.450 7.83 (.077) 0.043* 7.98 (0.100) 0.489 8.04 (0.206) 0.548
Other 7.92 (0.136) 7.78 (.208) 7.86 (0.140) 7.85 (0.236)
7.72 (0.124)
7.91 (0.123)
7.81 (0.116)
8.05 (0.116)
7.85 (0.230)
8.09 (0.202)
7.90 (0.104)
7.68 (0.156) 0.224
7.60(.214) 0.529
7.93 (0.104)
7.91 (0.136) 0.924
7.93 (0.225)
8.00 (0.204) 0.815
Type of Lodging
With Parents
7.62 (0.192)
7.86 (0.099) 0.277
7.73(.220) 0.184
8.05 (0.153)
7.89 (0.097) 0.417
7.57 (0.259)
8.26 (0.190) 0.028*
coefficient p2 Correlation3
coefficient p2 Correlation3
coefficient p2 Correlation3
coefficient p2
Happiness score - - - - 0.819 <0.001
0.639 <0.001
Life Satisfaction score 0.819 <0.001*** 0.639 <0.001*** - - - -
Age (years) 0.000 0.480 0.410 0.800 0.000 0.000 0.100 0.283
Perceived financial
situation 0.154 0.004* 0.114 0.227 0.230 <0.000***
0.086 0.356
Self-rated health
satisfaction 0.425 <0.001*** 0.454 <0.001*** 0.494 <0.001***
0.327 <0.001***
Positive Career
Optimism 0.338 <0.001
0.341 <0.001
0.291 <0.001
0.243 0.008
1Std. Error; 2Significant p-value: *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001; 3Pearson’s correlation.
with greater happiness. In contrast, for the graduate group, those who had a job were happier and had a greater
life satisfaction. Majority lived with their parents which predicted better life satisfaction. This result confirms
the current situation faced by many young people, namely a prolonged time of living in the parental home while
three quarters had a job. This finding may indicate the difficulty of the situation that faces young graduates, in
particular related to economical insecurity and job status that do not cover the needs of the new generation and
do not allow them to think towards the future by taking their autonomy.
Happiness and life satisfaction scores were not different for students and graduates. Considering the literature,
life satisfaction was higher for students and slightly lower for graduates (8.0/10 and 7.7/10, respectively), than
the national happiness (in 2012, 7.6 /10) and life satisfaction indicator in Luxembourg (in 2012, 7.7/10) [24],
which was higher than the average European (happiness 7.6 for EU-27 and life satisfaction 7.1 for EU-27) [1].
But when we considered the age category 25 to 34 years, happiness and life satisfaction (7.2/10 and 7.6/10, re-
spectively) were higher in both our groups than in the European panel. In the same line, the levels of the tertiary
education achievement, (7.3/10 and 7.6/10 respectively) [1] were also higher for our students and graduates
(8.0/10 and 7.7/10, respectively). This is not a surprise because high education level has been valorised by poli-
cies during Bologna Process and European governments as an enhancing factor of the sustainable employability
of young academic people. Indeed anticipated university success may provide students with more ambitions to
reach a higher social status and more expectations for their career.
S. Karavdic, M. Baumann
Table 3. Associations of career adaptability and career optimism on happiness and life satisfaction by students and gra-
Happiness [1]-[10]
Life Satisfaction [1]-[10]
b1 L954 U954 SE3 p2 b1 L954 U954 SE3 p2
Intercept 0.055 -1.676 1.785 0.880 0.950 0.686 -0.926 2.299 0.82 0.403
Positive Career
Adaptability [4]-[20] 0.647 0.374 0.920 0.139 0.000
0.467 0.211 0.723 0.13 0.000
Optimism [4]-[20] 0.556 0.330 0.783 0.086 0.000
0.435 0.223 0.647 0.108 0.000
Self-rated health
Satisfaction [1]-[5] 0.647 0.374 0.920 0.139 0.000*** 0.700 0.542 0.857 0.080 0.000***
Job No (vs. Yes)
0.101 0.475 0.274 0.190 0.597 0.033 0.317 0.383 0.178 0.853
Age 0.007 0.039 0.025 0.016 0.664 0.003 0.033 0.027 0.015 0.841
Male (vs.
0.199 0.514 0.115 0.160 0.214 0.126 0.419 0.168 0.149 0.401
Nationality Lux
(vs. other) 0.031 0.301 0.362 0.169 0.856 0.170 0.14 0.480 0.158 0.281
Type of lodging
With parents
(vs. other) 0.125 0.258 0.508 0.195 0.521 0.129 0.486 0.227 0.181 0.476
Perceived household
financial situation [1]-[6] 0.200 0.057 0.343 0.073 0.006** 0.251 0.486 0.227 0.181 0.476
Intercept 0.558 2.572 3.688 1.577 0.724 3.685 0.264 7.107 1.724 0.035*
Positive Career
Adaptability [4]-[20] 0.105 0.402 0.613 0.256 0.681 0.270 0.293 0.833 0.284 0.343
Optimism [4]-[20] 0.601 0.146 1.056 0.229 0.010** 0.244 0.263 0.751 0.256 0.342
Selfrated Health
Satisfaction [1]-[5] 1.025 0.628 1.422 0.200 0.000*** 0.701 0.26 1.143 0.222 0.002**
Job No (vs. Yes)
0.757 1.342 0.172 0.295 0.012
0.701 1.353 0.050 0.328 0.035
Age 0.018 0.062 0.025 0.022 0.403 0.035 0.083 0.013 0.024 0.146
Gender Male
(vs. Female)
0.035 0.584 0.515 0.277 0.901 0.480 0.13 1.091 0.308 0.122
Nationality Lux
(vs. other) 0.781 1.342 0.172 0.295 0.012* 0.261 0.359 0.880 0.312 0.406
Type of lodging
With parents
(vs. other) 0.566 0.032 1.164 0.301 0.063 0.779 0.112 1.445 0.336 0.023*
Perceived household
financial situation [1]-[6] 0.027 0.229 0.282 0.129 0.837 0.052 0.334 0.23 0.142 0.714
1Regression coefficient; 2Significant p-value: *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001; 3Std.Error; 4Confidence Intervals.
In addition, the domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant of Luxembourg (105,438$ vs. USA 47,199$ in 2010)
[22] may give them hope to obtain job opportunities easier than their peers without a university degree. In this
context the belief that a degree will guarantee not just a job but a “very good job” [25] [26] could affect their
happiness and life satisfaction much more before they become aware of the mismatch and difficulty of the la-
bour market [27].
For the students, career adaptability and career optimism predicted both, happiness and life satisfaction. For
graduates only the career optimism attitudes were associated with the better happiness. In line with this invidi-
ous who have developed adaptability attitudes may increasingly feel able to manage and control themselves im-
portant aspects of their lives, be more likely to be satisfied with their achievement [28], be able to make the
mark being more active in creating strategies to cope with their anxiety and fears [29] and could easier prepare
their abilities to find suitable employment at times of uncertainty. According to these issue students with the
higher career adaptability could be more able to handle their stressful period then the others by planning their
S. Karavdic, M. Baumann
career outcome and handling with a university workload, impacting their happiness and life satisfaction. Those
attitudes should be promoted as early as possible to favor the strengthening of individual resources long before
students have to cope with a professional transition [30].
For the graduates, having in mind that the majority of the sample had job, career adaptabilities may be relevant
output for their future career, especially in transitions form unemployment to reemployment and perhaps only in
the in the precarious situation career adaptability may positively influence sense of perception over one’s own
life wellbeing. In addition an optimistic individual may be more interested in their career future [31] and were
more confident that their entirety of their life been close to their ideal. In this context we suggest that optimistic
students and graduates may be more enthusiastically engages in their goal oriented career outcome. In addition
each step toward the career objective may be perceived by invidious as an appropriate path for career success.
For the both samples, better health satisfaction was linked to greater happiness and life satisfaction. Young
people who had a better general health perception had a greater psychological quality of life which is associated
with acquisition of skills that increase employability [32] The perception of health satisfaction especially by
young adult may not be characterised by illness but more positive feelings about themselves such an optimistic
vision of the future and abilities and resources that allow them to cope with everyday difficulties. The relation-
ships suggest that health satisfaction level is an important factor influencing the wellbeing of students and
graduates which may help them to explore ways of gaining greater satisfaction from this important aspect of
their life.
5. Conclusion
Master students and graduates had alterations in happiness and life satisfaction that were related to socioeco-
nomic and perceived health difficulties, and positive career attitudes. Given the important role played in peo-
ples happiness and wellbeing, university career services should pay a particular attention in monitoring of the
various components of positive career attitudes and encouraging experience opportunity and activities useful to
offer young people a growing sense of hope and planning for the future. As recommendations, we proposed to
elaborate interventions aiming at improving psycho-educational determinants. It must be stimulated at the be-
ginning of the entry at the university with appropriately collaborative supports, pedagogical workshops and in-
terpersonal trainings [30]. These findings may help with the development of university and post university ser-
vices with the aim to increase happiness and life satisfaction among postgraduates’ students and ex-students. In
the context of developing a European Higher Educational Area, these measurements are major indicators that can
be used as a guide to promote programs geared towards counselling, improvement of the social environment, and
services to assist with university work and facilitate achievement of future professional projects [32].
Thanks to: All the volunteer students and graduates without whom this research could not have been undertaken.
The project 2013-2016 untitled “CAPJOB-Students and graduates Capital employability and quality of life” was
supported by a financial grant from the University of Luxembourg and a relevant technical help provided by
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