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Mental Health of Parents and Life Satisfaction of Children: A Within-Family Analysis of Intergenerational Transmission of Well-Being

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  • N Powdthavee
  • A Vignoles

Abstract

This paper addresses the extent to which there is an intergenerational transmission of mental health and subjective well-being within families. Specifically it asks whether parents' own mental distress influences their child's life satisfaction, and vice versa. Whilst the evidence on daily contagion of stress and strain between members of the same family is substantial, the evidence on the transmission between parental distress and children's well-being over a longer period of time is sparse. We tested this idea by examining the within-family transmission of mental distress from parent to child's life satisfaction, and vice versa, using rich longitudinal data on 1,175 British youths. Results show that parental distress at year t-1 is an important determinant of child's life satisfaction in the current year. This is true for boys and girls, although boys do not appear to be affected by maternal distress levels. The results also indicated that the child's own life satisfaction is related with their father's distress levels in the following year, regardless of the gender of the child. Finally, we examined whether the underlying transmission correlation is due to shared social environment, empathic reactions, or transmission via parent-child interaction.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of York in its series Discussion Papers with number 08/20.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:08/20

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Keywords: Life satisfaction; mental health; intergenerational transmission; within-family; longitudinal; GHQ;

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Cited by:
  1. repec:ese:iserwp:2012-15 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Nattavudh Powdthavee & James Vernoit, 2012. "The Transferable Scars: A Longitudinal Evidence of Psychological Impact of Past Parental Unemployment on Adolescents in the United Kingdom," CEP Discussion Papers dp1165, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Qiyan Ong & Kong Ho & Kong Ho, 2013. "Altruism Within the Family: A Comparison of Father and Mother Using Life Happiness and Life Satisfaction," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 111(2), pages 485-510, April.
  4. David W. Johnston; & Stefanie Schurer; & Michael Shields;, 2012. "Evidence on the long shadow of poor mental health across three generations," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 12/20, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  5. Joaquina Palomar-Lever & Amparo Victorio-Estrada, 2014. "Determinants of Subjective Well-Being in Adolescent Children of Recipients of the Oportunidades Human Development Program in Mexico," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 118(1), pages 103-124, August.
  6. Kyriakos C. Neanidis & Vea Papadopoulou, 2012. "Crime, Fertility, and Economic Growth: Theory and Evidence," Centre for Growth and Business Cycle Research Discussion Paper Series 163, Economics, The Univeristy of Manchester.
  7. Stephen M. Miller & Kyriakos C. Neanidis, 2012. "Demographic Transition and Economic Welfare: The Role of Humanitarian Aid," Working papers 2012-06, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  8. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Vernoit, James, 2013. "Parental unemployment and children's happiness: A longitudinal study of young people's well-being in unemployed households," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 253-263.
  9. Carlsson, Fredrik & Lampi, Elina & Li, Wanxin & Martinsson, Peter, 2014. "Subjective well-being among preadolescents and their parents – Evidence of intergenerational transmission of well-being from urban China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 11-18.
  10. N Powdthavee, 2008. "I Can’t Smile Without You: Spousal Correlation in Life Satisfaction," Discussion Papers 08/16, Department of Economics, University of York.
  11. Wunder, Christoph & Heineck, Guido, 2012. "Working time preferences, hours mismatch and well-being of couples: Are there spillovers?," BERG Working Paper Series 85, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
  12. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & van den Berg, Bernard, 2011. "Putting Different Price Tags on the Same Health Condition: Re-evaluating the Well-Being Valuation Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 5493, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Plagnol, Anke C., 2011. "Financial satisfaction over the life course: The influence of assets and liabilities," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 45-64, February.

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