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Happiness and Childbearing Across Europe

  • Arnstein Aassve


  • Alice Goisis


  • Maria Sironi


In this paper we analyse the relationship between happiness and childbearing taking a comparative perspective. We argue that fertility and happiness are somewhat linked and we investigate whether there are important differences across European countries. Using happiness as a welfare measure offers important benefits over income especially when interest lies in understanding how individuals' wellbeing is associated with childbearing outcomes. We use the European Social Survey (ESS) and apply simple regression techniques, controlling for country differences, and find indeed a positive and significant association between happiness and childbearing. However, parents do not appear to be consistently happier in some countries than in others. The final set of analyses reveals a very strong interconnection between, childbearing, partnership and happiness.

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.

Volume (Year): 108 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (August)
Pages: 65-86

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Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:108:y:2012:i:1:p:65-86
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  1. Gabriella Conti & Stephen Pudney, 2011. "Survey Design and the Analysis of Satisfaction," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 1087-1093, August.
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  3. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, . "Does Marriage Make People Happy, Or Do Happy People Get Married?," IEW - Working Papers 143, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Arnstein Aassve & Maria Iacovou & Letizia Mencarini, 2006. "Youth poverty and transition to adulthood in Europe," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 15(2), pages 21-50, July.
  5. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dex, Shirley & Joshi, Heather, 1999. "Careers and Motherhood: Policies for Compatibility," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(5), pages 641-59, September.
  7. Steven Martin, 2000. "Diverging fertility among U.S. women who delay childbearing past age 30," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 523-533, November.
  8. Alberto Alesina & Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1938, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-31, November.
  10. Heather Joshi, 1998. "The opportunity costs of childbearing: More than mothers' business," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 161-183.
  11. Jan Bavel, 2010. "Choice of study discipline and the postponement of motherhood in Europe: The impact of expected earnings, gender composition, and family attitudes," Demography, Springer, vol. 47(2), pages 439-458, May.
  12. Esping-Andersen, Gosta, 1999. "Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198742005.
  13. Anke C. Zimmermann & Richard A. Easterlin, 2006. "Happily Ever After? Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Happiness in Germany," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 32(3), pages 511-528.
  14. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
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