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Does Lone Motherhood Decrease Women’s Subjective Well-Being? Evidence from Qualitative and Quantitative Research

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  • Anna Baranowska-Rataj

    ()

  • Anna Matysiak

    ()

  • Monika Mynarska

    ()
    (Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics
    Cardinal Stefan Wyszyñski University in Warsaw, Institute of Psychology)

Abstract

This paper contributes to the discussion on the effects of single motherhood on happiness. We use a mixed-method approach. First, based on in-depth interviews with mothers who gave birth while single, we explore mechanisms through which children may influence mothers’ subjective well-being. In a second step, we analyze panel survey data to quantify this influence. Our results leave no doubt that, while raising a child outside of marriage poses many challenges, parenthood has some positive influence on a lone mother’s life. Our qualitative evidence shows that children are a central point in an unmarried woman’s life, and that many life decisions are taken with consideration of the child’s welfare, including escaping from pathological relationships. Our quantitative evidence shows that, although the general level of happiness among unmarried women is lower than among their married counterparts, raising a child does not have a negative impact on their subjective well-being.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 48.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:isd:wpaper:48

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Keywords: nonmarital childbearing; single motherhood; happiness; well-being; methodological triangulation; mixed methods;

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  1. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  2. Randall K. Filer & Jan Hanousek, 2001. "Data Watch: Research Data from Transition Economies," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 416, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  3. Monika Mynarska & Anna Matysiak, 2010. "Diffusion of cohabitation in Poland," Working Papers 19, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.
  4. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
  5. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
  6. Geishecker, Ingo & Riedl, Maximilian, 2012. "Ordered response models and non-random personality traits: Monte Carlo simulations and a practical guide," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 116, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  7. Anna Baranowska, 2011. "Premarital conceptions and their resolution. The decomposition of trends in rural and urban areas in Poland 1985-2009," Working Papers 27, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.
  8. Irena E. Kotowska & Janina Jóźwiak & Anna Matysiak & Anna Baranowska, 2008. "Poland: Fertility decline as a response to profound societal and labour market changes?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(22), pages 795-854, July.
  9. Mundlak, Yair, 1978. "On the Pooling of Time Series and Cross Section Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 69-85, January.
  10. Baetschmann, Gregori & Staub, Kevin & Winkelmann, Rainer, 2011. "Consistent Estimation of the Fixed Effects Ordered Logit Model," IZA Discussion Papers 5443, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Siv Gustafsson, 2001. "Optimal age at motherhood. Theoretical and empirical considerations on postponement of maternity in Europe," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 225-247.
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