IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Happiness: before and after the kids

  • Mikko Myrskylä

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

  • Rachel Margolis
Registered author(s):

    Understanding how the process of childbearing influences parental well-being has great potential to explain variation in fertility. However, most research on fertility and happiness uses cross-sectional data, hindering causal conclusions. We study trajectories of parental happiness before and after the birth of a child using British and German panel data and methods which control for unobserved parental characteristics. We find that happiness increases prior to and in the year of having a child and decreases thereafter, but not below before-child levels. This general pattern is modified by sociodemographic characteristics. Those who become parents at young ages have a downward happiness trajectory, while those becoming parents at older ages have a higher happiness level after the birth. The first child tends to increase happiness a lot, the second much less, and the third may decrease happiness. Socioeconomic resources are important for men, as those with low education gain little in happiness from the birth of a child. Women experience stronger pre-birth highs and post-birth drops than men. These results, which are similar in Britain and Germany, suggest that childbearing increases parental happiness most among those who postpone and have more resources. This recipe for happiness is highly consistent with the fertility behavior that emerged during the second demographic transition and provides new insights into the causes behind low and late fertility.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2012-013.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/cgi-bin/publications/paper.plx?pubid=5155
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2012-013.

    as
    in new window

    Length: 53 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-013
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2008. "Lags And Leads in Life Satisfaction: a Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(529), pages F222-F243, 06.
    2. Arnstein Aassve & Alice Goisis & Maria Sironi, 2012. "Happiness and Childbearing Across Europe," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 108(1), pages 65-86, August.
    3. Paul Frijters & David W. Johnston & Michael A. Shields, 2011. "Life Satisfaction Dynamics with Quarterly Life Event Data," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(1), pages 190-211, 03.
    4. Luis Angeles, 2009. "Adaption and anticipation effects to life events in the United Kingdom," Working Papers 2009_08, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    5. Alícia Adserà, 2004. "Changing fertility rates in developed countries. The impact of labor market institutions," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 17-43, February.
    6. Bruce Sacerdote & James Feyrer, 2008. "Will the Stork Return to Europe and Japan? Understanding Fertility Within Developed Nations," NBER Working Papers 14114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Anna Baranowska & Anna Matysiak, 2011. "Does parenthood increase happiness? Evidence for Poland," Working Papers 38, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.
    8. Marina Della Giusta & Sarah Louise Jewell & Uma Kambhampati, 2011. "Gender and Life Satisfaction in the UK," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 1-34.
    9. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
    10. Andrew E. Clark & Yannis Georgellis, 2010. "Back to baseline in Britain: Adaptation in the BHPS," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564821, HAL.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-013. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Wilhelm)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.