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The increasing happiness of US parents

Author

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  • Chris M. Herbst

    (Arizona State University and IZA)

  • John Ifcher

    (Santa Clara University)

Abstract

Previous research suggests that parents may be less happy than non-parents. We critically assess the literature and examine parents’ and non-parents’ happiness-trends using the General Social Survey (N = 42,298) and DDB Lifestyle Survey (N = 75,237). We find that parents are becoming happier over time relative to non-parents, that non-parents’ happiness is declining absolutely, and that estimates of the parental happiness gap are sensitive to the time-period analyzed. These results are consistent across two datasets, most subgroups, and various specifications. Finally, we present evidence that suggests children appear to protect parents against social and economic forces that may be reducing happiness among non-parents.

Suggested Citation

  • Chris M. Herbst & John Ifcher, 2016. "The increasing happiness of US parents," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 529-551, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:reveho:v:14:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s11150-015-9302-0
    DOI: 10.1007/s11150-015-9302-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Courtney A. Gosselin & Veronika Huta & Arthur Braaten, 2022. "Eudaimonic Orientation Enhances the Well-Being Experienced by Fathers," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 17(4), pages 2117-2138, August.
    2. Magdalena Grabowska & Agata Górny & Małgorzata Kalbarczyk, 2024. "Why the Happiest Moments in Life are Sometimes Short? The Role of Psychological Traits and Socio-Economic Circumstances," Working Papers 2024-06, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    3. Christoph Becker & Isadora Kirchmaier & Stefan T Trautmann, 2019. "Marriage, parenthood and social network: Subjective well-being and mental health in old age," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(7), pages 1-20, July.
    4. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew E. Clark, 2021. "Children, unhappiness and family finances," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(2), pages 625-653, April.
    5. Daniela V. Negraia & Jennifer M. Augustine, 2019. "SES and the emotional 'benefits' and 'costs' of parenting," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2019-012, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    6. Giulia M. Dotti Sani, 2022. "The Intrinsic Value of Childcare: Positive Returns of Childcare Time on Parents’ Well-Being and Life Satisfaction in Italy," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 23(5), pages 1901-1921, June.
    7. Joseph J. Sabia & Joseph P. Price & H. Elizabeth Peters & Reginald Covington, 2018. "The effect on teenage childbearing on social capital development: new evidence on civic engagement," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 629-659, September.
    8. Tao, Dongjie & He, Lingyun & Hamilton, Jonathan & Xu, Ding, 2021. "Children's marriage and parental subjective well-being: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    9. Jan Priebe, 2020. "Quasi-experimental evidence for the causal link between fertility and subjective well-being," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 33(3), pages 839-882, July.
    10. Milovanska-Farrington, Stefani & Farrington, Stephen, 2021. "More and none? Children and parental well-being: A bimodal outcome from an instrumental variable approach," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 225-243.
    11. Lucía I. Llinares-Insa & Ana M. Casino-García & Josefa García-Pérez, 2020. "Subjective Well-Being, Emotional Intelligence, and Mood of Parents: A Model of Relationships. Impact of Giftedness," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(21), pages 1-22, October.
    12. Marco Le Moglie & Letizia Mencarini & Chiara Rapallini, 2019. "Does income moderate the satisfaction of becoming a parent? In Germany it does and depends on education," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(3), pages 915-952, July.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Parents; Happiness; Life satisfaction; Subjective well-being; General Social Survey (GSS); DDB Lifestyle Survey (LSS);
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General

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