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Does the stork deliver happiness? Parenthood and life satisfaction

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  • Gregori Baetschmann
  • Kevin E. Staub
  • Raphael Studer

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between parenthood and life satisfaction using longitudinal data on women from the German Socio-Economic Panel. Previous studies have focused on satisfaction differences between parents and comparable childless adults, mostly finding small and often negative effects of parenthood. These comparisons of ex-post similar individuals are problematic if a self-selection into motherhood exists. In this study we examine the selection issue in detail by exploiting the extended longitudinal dimension of the panel to track self-reported life satisfaction of women eventually to become mothers and of women eventually attaining a completed fertility of zero. We document that these groups' satisfaction paths diverge around five years before mothers' first birth, even after adjusting for differences in observables. In our estimations, we employ matching and regression techniques which account for this selection into motherhood. We find motherhood to be associated with substantial positive satisfaction gains.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 094.

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Date of creation: Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:094

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Keywords: Happiness; subjective well-being; children; fertility; mother- hood; parenthood; life cycle; selection; matching; fixed effects;

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  1. Andrew J. Oswald & Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2008. "Death, Happiness, and the Calculation of Compensatory Damages," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(S2), pages S217-S251, 06.
  2. Clark, Andrew E. & Diener, Ed & Georgellis, Yannis & Lucas, Richard E., 2006. "Lags and Leads in Life Satisfaction: A Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," IZA Discussion Papers 2526, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Rafael Di Tella & Robert J. MacCulloch & Andrew J. Oswald, 2003. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 809-827, November.
  4. Emilia Del Bono & Andrea Weber & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2008. "Clash of Career and Family: Fertility Decisions after Job Displacement," CESifo Working Paper Series 2180, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Van Landeghem, Bert, 2012. "A test for the convexity of human well-being over the life cycle: Longitudinal evidence from a 20-year panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 571-582.
  6. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  8. Pierre‐Carl Michaud & Konstantinos Tatsiramos, 2011. "Fertility and female employment dynamics in Europe: the effect of using alternative econometric modeling assumptions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(4), pages 641-668, 06.
  9. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  10. Gulcin Gumus & Jungmin Lee, 2012. "Alternative Paths To Parenthood: Ivf Or Child Adoption?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(3), pages 802-820, 07.
  11. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  12. 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).
  13. Frijters, Paul & Johnston, David W. & Shields, Michael A., 2008. "Happiness Dynamics with Quarterly Life Event Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3604, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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