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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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  • Nattavudh Powdthavee

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  • Anna 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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  • Nattavudh Powdthavee & Anna Vignoles, 2008. "Mental Health of Parents and Life Satisfaction of Children: A Within-Family Analysis of Intergenerational Transmission of Well-Being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 88(3), pages 397-422, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:88:y:2008:i:3:p:397-422
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-007-9223-2
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    Cited by:

    1. Viola Angelini & Marco Bertoni & Luca Corazzini, 2015. "The Causal Effect of Paternal Unemployment on Children's Personality," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 795, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. 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.
    3. Wunder, Christoph & Heineck, Guido, 2013. "Working time preferences, hours mismatch and well-being of couples: Are there spillovers?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 244-252.
    4. 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.
    5. Neanidis, Kyriakos C. & Papadopoulou, Vea, 2013. "Crime, fertility, and economic growth: Theory and evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 101-121.
    6. 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.
    7. Miller, Stephen M. & Neanidis, Kyriakos C., 2015. "Demographic transition and economic welfare: The role of in-cash and in-kind transfers," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 84-92.
    8. Johnston, David W. & Schurer, Stefanie & Shields, Michael A., 2011. "Evidence on the Long Shadow of Poor Mental Health across Three Generations," IZA Discussion Papers 6014, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Vernoit, James, 2012. "The transferable scars: a longitudinal evidence of psychological impact of past parental unemployment on adolescents in the United Kingdom," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51510, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    10. 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: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 118(1), pages 103-124, August.
    11. Deniz Yucel & Anastasia S. Vogt Yuan, 2016. "Parents, Siblings, or Friends? Exploring Life Satisfaction among Early Adolescents," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 11(4), pages 1399-1423, December.
    12. Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2009. "I can't smile without you: Spousal correlation in life satisfaction," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 675-689, August.
    13. Kang-Rae Ma, 2016. "Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth and Life Satisfaction," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 11(4), pages 1287-1308, December.
    14. Henderson, Morag & Cheung, Sin Yi & Sharland, Elaine & Scourfield, Jonathan, 2015. "The effect of social work use on the mental health outcomes of parents and the life satisfaction of children in Britain," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 71-81.
    15. Pierre-Richard Agénor, 2015. "Public capital, health persistence and poverty traps," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 103-131, June.
    16. Paul Downward & Simona Rasciute, 2011. "An Economic Analysis of the Subjective Health and Well-being of Physical Activity," Chapters,in: The Economics of Sport, Health and Happiness, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    17. Knies, Gundi, 2012. "Life satisfaction and material well-being of children in the UK," ISER Working Paper Series 2012-15, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    18. 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.
    19. repec:pal:easeco:v:43:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1057_eej.2015.46 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & van den Berg, Bernard, 2011. "Putting different price tags on the same health condition: Re-evaluating the well-being valuation approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1032-1043.
    21. Kyriakos C. Neanidis, 2012. "Humanitarian Aid, Fertility and Economic Growth," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(313), pages 27-61, January.
    22. 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: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 111(2), pages 485-510, April.
    23. Katherine Eyal & Justine Burns, 2016. "Up or Down? Intergenerational Mental Health Transmission and Cash Transfers in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 165, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Life satisfaction; Mental health; Intergenerational transmission; Within-family; Longitudinal; GHQ;

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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