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Given the increasing importance of athlete well-being in the sport policy debate, this study investigated the effects of socioeconomic factors on elite athletes’ well-being in less commercialized sports and provides comparisons with residents of similar age (18–30 years). This study used survey data from athletes who are supported by the German Sports Aid Foundation (n = 709) and from the German Socio-Economic Panel, containing comparable variables for residents (n = 2,455). Subjective well-being was measured with life satisfaction as a whole and satisfaction with important domains in life, including health, income, leisure time, and family life. The athletes scored lower on all well-being measures compared with young residents. The regression analyses revealed significant differences between athletes and young residents with regard to the effects of age, income, education, and sport hours on different well-being dimensions, suggesting that more needs to be done that the athletes’ investments into sport and education yield well-being benefits.
Wicker is with the Department of Sports Science, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, North-Rhine Westfalia, Germany. Dallmeyer and Breuer are with the Department of Sport Economics and Sport Management, German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany.