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Parents Transmit Happiness along with Associated Values and Behaviors to Their Children: A Lifelong Happiness Divided?

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Author Info

  • Bruce Headey
  • Ruud Muffels
  • Gert G. Wagner

Abstract

There are strong two-way links between parent and child happiness (life satisfaction), even for 'children' who have grown up, moved to their own home and partnered themselves. German panel evidence shows that transmission of (un)happiness from parents to children is partly due to transmission of values and behaviors known to be associated with happiness (Headey, Wagner and Muffels, 2010, 2012). These values and behaviors include giving priority to pro-social and family values, rather than material values, maintaining a preferred balance between work and leisure, active social and community participation, and regular exercise. Both parents have about equal influence on the values and behaviors which children adopt. However, the life satisfaction of adult 'children' continues to be directly influenced by the life satisfaction of their mothers, with the influence of fathers being only indirect, via transmission of values and behaviors. There appears to be a lifelong happiness dividend (or unhappiness dividend) due to parenting.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 492.

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Length: 39 p.
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp492

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Keywords: Life satisfaction; inter-generational transmission; German panel survey (SOEP);

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References

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  1. Bruce Headey & Ruud Muffels & Gert Wagner, 2013. "Choices Which Change Life Satisfaction: Similar Results for Australia, Britain and Germany," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 112(3), pages 725-748, July.
  2. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2008. "Lags and Leads in Life Satisfaction: A Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) 84, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Guven, Cahit & Senik, Claudia & Stichnoth, Holger, 2009. "You Can't Be Happier than Your Wife: Happiness Gaps and Divorce," IZA Discussion Papers 4599, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Richard E. Lucas & Andrew Clark & Yannis Georgellis & Ed Diener, 2002. "Unemployment Alters the Set-Point for Life Satisfaction," DELTA Working Papers, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure) 2002-17, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  5. N Powdthavee, 2008. "I Can’t Smile Without You: Spousal Correlation in Life Satisfaction," Discussion Papers, Department of Economics, University of York 08/16, Department of Economics, University of York.
  6. Bruce Headey, 2008. "Life Goals Matter to Happiness: A Revision of Set-Point Theory," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 86(2), pages 213-231, April.
  7. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
  8. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  9. Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2004. "Money Does Matter! Evidence from Increasing Real Income and Life Satisfaction in East Germany Following Reunification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 730-740, June.
  10. Winkelmann, Rainer, 2004. "Subjective Well-Being and the Family: Results from an Ordered Probit Model with Multiple Random Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 1016, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Michael Kind & John P. Haisken-DeNew, 2012. "Unexpected Victims: How Parents' Unemployment Affects Their Children's Life Satisfaction," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne wp2012n02, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  12. Ulrich Schimmack & Richard Lucas, 2010. "Environmental Influences on Well-Being: A Dyadic Latent Panel Analysis of Spousal Similarity," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 98(1), pages 1-21, August.
  13. P. Bentler & Edward Freeman, 1983. "Tests for stability in linear structural equation systems," Psychometrika, Springer, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 143-145, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Felix FitzRoy & Michael Nolan & Max Steinhardt & David Ulph, 2013. "Testing the Tunnel Effect: Comparison, Age and Happiness in UK and German Panels," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews 201304, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews.
  2. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Stutzer, Alois, 2014. "Economic Approaches to Understanding Change in Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 8131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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