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A global perspective on happiness and fertility

Author

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  • Rachel Margolis
  • Mikko Myrskylä

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

Abstract

The literature on fertility and happiness has neglected comparative analysis. We investigate the fertility-happiness association using data for 86 countries. We find that globally, happiness decreases with the number of children. This association, however, is strongly modified by individual and contextual factors. Most importantly, we find that the association between happiness and fertility evolves from negative to neutral to positive above age 40, and is strongest among those who are likely to benefit most from upward intergenerational transfers. In addition, analyses by welfare regime show that the negative fertility-happiness association for younger adults is weakest in countries with high public support for families, and the positive association above age 40 is strongest in countries where old-age support depends mostly on the family. Overall these results suggest that children are a long-term investment in well-being, and highlight the importance of the life-cycle stage and contextual factors in explaining the happiness-fertility association.

Suggested Citation

  • Rachel Margolis & Mikko Myrskylä, 2010. "A global perspective on happiness and fertility," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2010-025, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2010-025
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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2010-025.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 53-72, Spring.
    2. Hans-Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680.
    3. Vani Borooah, 2006. "How much happiness is there in the world? A cross-country study," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(8), pages 483-488.
    4. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
    5. Thomas Hansen & Britt Slagsvold & Torbjørn Moum, 2009. "Childlessness and Psychological Well-Being in Midlife and Old Age: An Examination of Parental Status Effects Across a Range of Outcomes," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 94(2), pages 343-362, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ambrey, Christopher L. & Fleming, Christopher M., 2011. "Valuing Ecosystem Diversity in South East Queensland: A Life Satisfaction Approach," 2011 Conference, August 25-26, 2011, Nelson, New Zealand 115347, New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    2. Anna Baranowska & Anna Matysiak, 2011. "Does parenthood increase happiness? Evidence for Poland," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 9(1), pages 307-325.
    3. Christopher Ambrey & Christopher Fleming, 2014. "Public Greenspace and Life Satisfaction in Urban Australia," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 51(6), pages 1290-1321, May.
    4. Ambrey, Christopher L. & Fleming, Christopher M., 2011. "Valuing scenic amenity using life satisfaction data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 106-115.
    5. Christopher Ambrey & Christopher Fleming & Matthew Manning, 2014. "Perception or Reality, What Matters Most When it Comes to Crime in Your Neighbourhood?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(2), pages 877-896, November.
    6. Martin Werding, 2014. "Children are costly, but raising them may pay," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(8), pages 253-276, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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