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Happiness: before and after the kids

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Author Info

  • Mikko Myrskylä

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Rachel Margolis
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    Abstract

    Understanding how the process of childbearing influences parental well-being has great potential to explain variation in fertility. However, most research on fertility and happiness uses cross-sectional data, hindering causal conclusions. We study trajectories of parental happiness before and after the birth of a child using British and German panel data and methods which control for unobserved parental characteristics. We find that happiness increases prior to and in the year of having a child and decreases thereafter, but not below before-child levels. This general pattern is modified by sociodemographic characteristics. Those who become parents at young ages have a downward happiness trajectory, while those becoming parents at older ages have a higher happiness level after the birth. The first child tends to increase happiness a lot, the second much less, and the third may decrease happiness. Socioeconomic resources are important for men, as those with low education gain little in happiness from the birth of a child. Women experience stronger pre-birth highs and post-birth drops than men. These results, which are similar in Britain and Germany, suggest that childbearing increases parental happiness most among those who postpone and have more resources. This recipe for happiness is highly consistent with the fertility behavior that emerged during the second demographic transition and provides new insights into the causes behind low and late fertility.

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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2012-013.pdf
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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/cgi-bin/publications/paper.plx?pubid=5155
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2012-013.

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    Length: 53 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-013

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

    Related research

    Keywords: Germany; United Kingdom; fertility; mental health;

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    References

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    1. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
    2. Bruce Sacerdote & James Feyrer, 2008. "Will the Stork Return to Europe and Japan? Understanding Fertility Within Developed Nations," NBER Working Papers 14114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2007. "Lags and leads in life satisfaction: a test of the baseline hypothesis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19656, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Paul Frijters & David W. Johnston & Michael A. Shields, 2011. "Life Satisfaction Dynamics with Quarterly Life Event Data," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(1), pages 190-211, 03.
    5. Andrew E. Clark & Yannis Georgellis, 2010. "Back to baseline in Britain: Adaptation in the BHPS," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564821, HAL.
    6. Marina Della Giusta & Sarah Louise Jewell & Uma Kambhampati, 2011. "Gender and Life Satisfaction in the UK," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 1-34.
    7. Arnstein Aassve & Maria Sironi & Alice Goisis, 2009. "Happiness and childbearing across Europe," Working Papers 010, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    8. Alícia Adserà, 2004. "Changing fertility rates in developed countries. The impact of labor market institutions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 17-43, February.
    9. Luis Angeles, 2009. "Adaption and anticipation effects to life events in the United Kingdom," Working Papers 2009_08, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    10. Anna Baranowska & Anna Matysiak, 2011. "Does parenthood increase happiness? Evidence for Poland," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 9(1), pages 307-325.
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    Cited by:
    1. Pedersen, Peder J. & Schmidt, Torben Dall, 2014. "Life Events and Subjective Well-being: The Case of Having Children," IZA Discussion Papers 8207, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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