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Partner + Children = Happiness? The Effects of Partnerships and Fertility on Well-Being

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  • Hans-Peter Kohler
  • Jere R. Behrman
  • Axel Skytthe

Abstract

Economic and rational-choice theories suggest that individuals form unions or have children because these decisions increase their subjective well-being or "happiness." We investigate this relation using within-MZ (identical) twin pair estimates to control for unobserved factors, such as optimistic preferences, that may simultaneously affect happiness, partnerships, and fertility. Our findings, based on Danish twins aged 25-45 and 50-70 years old, include the following. (1) Currently being in a partnership has large positive effects on happiness. (2) A first child substantially increases well-being, in analyses without controls for partnerships, and males enjoy an almost 75 percent larger happiness gain from a first-born son than from a first-born daughter; however, only females enjoy a happiness gain from the first-born child with controls for partnerships. (3) Additional children beyond the first child have a negative effect on subjective well-being for females, while there is no effect for males. (4) Ever having had children does not significantly affect the subjective well-being of males or females aged 50-70 years. Copyright 2005 The Population Council, Inc..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by The Population Council, Inc. in its journal Population and Development Review.

Volume (Year): 31 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 407-445

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Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:31:y:2005:i:3:p:407-445

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Cited by:
  1. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2006. "Daughters and Left-Wing Voting," IZA Discussion Papers 2103, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, 2007. "Social mobility and fertility," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 17(15), pages 441-464, December.
  3. Clark, Andrew E., 2007. "Born To Be Mild? Cohort Effects Don’t (Fully) Explain Why Well-Being Is U-Shaped in Age," IZA Discussion Papers 3170, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00590307 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Samuel H. Preston & Caroline Sten Hartnett, 2008. "The Future of American Fertility," NBER Working Papers 14498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Luca Stanca, 2009. "Suffer the Little Children: Measuring the Effects of Parenthood on Well-Being Worldwide," Working Papers 173, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2009.
  7. Sofie Vanassche & Gray Swicegood & Koen Matthijs, 2013. "Marriage and Children as a Key to Happiness? Cross-National Differences in the Effects of Marital Status and Children on Well-Being," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 501-524, April.
  8. Øystein Kravdal, 2010. "Demographers’ interest in fertility trends and determinants in developed countries: Is it warranted?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 22(22), pages 663-690, April.
  9. Asadullah, Mohammad Niaz & Chaudhury, Nazmul, 2012. "Subjective well-being and relative poverty in rural Bangladesh," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 940-950.
  10. Luis Angeles, 2009. "Do children make us happier?," Working Papers 2009_10, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
  11. Nilsson, william, 2006. "Sickness Absence and the Effects of Having a Spouse - Can twins reveal the selection effect?," UmeÃ¥ Economic Studies 686, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
  12. Rossarin Gray & Aphichat Chamratrithirong & Umaporn Pattaravanich & Pramote Prasartkul, 2013. "Happiness Among Adolescent Students in Thailand: Family and Non-Family Factors," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 110(2), pages 703-719, January.
  13. Dolores Pushkar & Dorothea Bye & Michael Conway & Carsten Wrosch & June Chaikelson & Jamshid Etezadi & Constantina Giannopoulos & Karen Li & Nassim Tabri, 2014. "Does Child Gender Predict Older Parents’ Well-Being?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 118(1), pages 285-303, August.
  14. Duha T. Altindag & Junyue Xu, 2011. "The Impact of Institutions and Development on Happiness," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2011-08, Department of Economics, Auburn University.

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