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The Role of Family Orientations in Shaping the Effect of Fertility on Subjective Well-being: A Propensity Score Matching Approach

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  • Nicoletta Balbo

    (Bocconi University)

  • Bruno Arpino

    (Pompeu Fabra University)

Abstract

This article investigates whether and how having a child impacts an individual’s subjective well-being, while taking into account heterogeneity in family attitudes. People with different family orientations have different values, gender attitudes, preferences toward career and family, and expectations about how childbearing can affect their subjective well-being. These differences impact fertility decisions and the effect of parenthood on an individual’s life satisfaction. We define three groups of people based on their family orientations: Traditional, Mixed, and Modern. Applying propensity score matching on longitudinal data (British Household Panel Survey), we create groups of individuals with very similar socioeconomic characteristics and family orientations before childbearing. We then compare those who have one child with those who are childless, and those who have two children with those who have only one child. We show that parents are significantly more satisfied than nonparents, and this effect is stronger among men than among women. For men, we do not find significant differences across family orientations groups in the effect of the birth of the first child on life satisfaction. Among women, only Traditional mothers seem to be more satisfied than their childless counterparts. Women who have a second child are never more satisfied than those who have only one child, regardless of their family orientations. Traditional and Mixed men experience a gain in life satisfaction when they have a second child, but this effect is not found for Modern men.

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  • Nicoletta Balbo & Bruno Arpino, 2016. "The Role of Family Orientations in Shaping the Effect of Fertility on Subjective Well-being: A Propensity Score Matching Approach," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(4), pages 955-978, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:53:y:2016:i:4:d:10.1007_s13524-016-0480-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-016-0480-z
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    2. Daniela Bellani & Bruno Arpino, 2021. "Risk aversion and fertility. Evidence from a lottery question in Italy," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2021_02, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    3. Jona Schellekens, 2019. "Does the association between children and happiness vary by level of religiosity? The evidence from Israel," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 41(5), pages 103-124.
    4. Radó, Márta & Boissonneault, Michaël, 2020. "Short and long-term change in subjective well-being among voluntary and involuntary retirees," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 17(C).
    5. Arnstein Aassve & Bruno Arpino & Nicoletta Balbo, 2016. "It Takes Two to Tango: Couples’ Happiness and Childbearing," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(3), pages 339-354, August.
    6. Brienna Perelli-Harris & Stefanie Hoherz & Trude Lappegård & Ann Evans, 2019. "Mind the “Happiness” Gap: The Relationship Between Cohabitation, Marriage, and Subjective Well-being in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and Norway," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 56(4), pages 1219-1246, August.
    7. Renuka Mahadevan & Sha Fan, 2021. "Differential Effects of Parents’ Education on Adolescent Well-being Outcomes," Child Indicators Research, Springer;The International Society of Child Indicators (ISCI), vol. 14(6), pages 2495-2516, December.
    8. Nikolett Somogyi & Wim Van Lancker & Rossella Ciccia & Sarah Van de Velde, 2021. "The Relationship between Familizing and Individualizing Policies and Mental Health in Parents in Europe," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 10(2), pages 1-16, February.
    9. Kravdal, Øystein, 2016. "Expected and unexpected consequences of childbearing – a methodologically and politically important distinction that is overlooked," Memorandum 05/2016, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    10. 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.
    11. Kazuma Sato, 2022. "Who is Happier in Japan, a Housewife or Working Wife?," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 509-533, February.
    12. Jianghua Liu & Zhongliang Zhou, 2019. "Mothers’ Subjective Well-Being after Having a Second Child in Current China: A Case Study of Xi’an City," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 16(20), pages 1-14, October.
    13. Yu, Shuye & Postepska, Agnieszka, 2020. "Flexible Jobs Make Parents Happier: Evidence from Australia," IZA Discussion Papers 13700, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Daniela Bellani & Bruno Arpino & Daniele Vignoli, 2021. "Time preferences and fertility: Evidence from Italy," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 44(50), pages 1185-1228.
    15. Mariam M. Elgendi & Sherry H. Stewart & Danika I. DesRoches & Penny Corkum & Raquel Nogueira-Arjona & S. Hélène Deacon, 2022. "Division of Labour and Parental Mental Health and Relationship Well-Being during COVID-19 Pandemic-Mandated Homeschooling," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(24), pages 1-34, December.
    16. 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.
    17. Lei, Lei & Wu, Fengyu & Xia, Yiming, 2023. "Child Gender and Subjective Well-being of Older Parents in China," GLO Discussion Paper Series 1229, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    18. Bruno Arpino & Valeria Bordone & Nicoletta Balbo, 2018. "Grandparenting, education and subjective well-being of older Europeans," European Journal of Ageing, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 251-263, September.
    19. Deole, Sumit S. & Zeydanli, Tugba, 2021. "Does education predict gender role attitudes?: Evidence from European datasets," GLO Discussion Paper Series 793, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    20. Francesca Luppi, 2016. "When is the Second One Coming? The Effect of Couple’s Subjective Well-Being Following the Onset of Parenthood," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(3), pages 421-444, August.
    21. Albertini, Marco & Arpino, Bruno, 2018. "Childlessness, parenthood and subjective wellbeing: The relevance of conceptualizing parenthood and childlessness as a continuum," SocArXiv xtfq6, Center for Open Science.
    22. Márta K. Radó, 2020. "Tracking the Effects of Parenthood on Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from Hungary," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 21(6), pages 2069-2094, August.
    23. Maria Gabriella Campolo & Antonino Di Pino & Ester Lucia Rizzi, 2020. "The labour division of Italian couples after a birth: assessing the effect of unobserved heterogeneity," Journal of Population Research, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 107-137, June.

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