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Maternal Employment and Happiness: The Effect of Non-Participation and Part-Time Employment on Mothers' Life Satisfaction

  • Eva M. Berger

In contrast to unemployment, the effect of non-participation and parttime employment on subjective well-being has much less frequently been the subject of economists' investigations. In Germany, many women with dependent children are involuntarily out of the labor force or in part-time employment because of family constraints (e.g., due to lack of available and appropriate childcare). Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) Study, this paper analyzes the impact of involuntary familyrelated non-participation and part-time employment on mothers' life satisfaction. Controlling for unobserved individual fixed effects, I find that both the pecuniary effects (foregone earnings) and the non-pecuniary effects (psychological costs) are significantly negative. Compensating income variations reveal that the residual household income would have to be raised by 182 percent (157 percent/77 percent) in order to just offset the negative effect of not being able to work because of family constraints (of being in short/long part-time employment). Moreover, in terms of overall happiness among mothers, non-participation is revealed to be a more serious problem than unemployment.

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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 178.

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Length: 28 p.
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp178
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  1. Bardasi, Elena & Francesconi, Marco, 2004. "The impact of atypical employment on individual wellbeing: evidence from a panel of British workers," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(9), pages 1671-1688, May.
  2. Alison L. Booth & Jan C. van Ours, 2007. "Job Satisfaction and Family Happiness: The Part-time Work Puzzle," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1000, The University of Melbourne.
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  6. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  7. Ribar, D.C., 1991. "A Structural Model of Child Care and the Labor Supply of Married Women," Papers 1-91-1, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  8. Miriam Beblo & Charlotte Lauer & Katharina Wrohlich, 2005. "Ganztagsschulen und Erwerbsbeteiligung von Müttern: eine Mikrosimulationsstudie für Deutschland," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 543, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  9. Katharina C. Spiess & Eva M. Berger & Olaf Groh-Samberg, 2008. "Overcoming Disparities and Expanding Access to Early Childhood Services in Germany: Policy consideration and funding options," Innocenti Working Papers inwopa08/52, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
  10. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
  11. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
  12. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  13. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
  14. Connelly, Rachel, 1992. "The Effect of Child Care Costs on Married Women's Labor Force Participation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 83-90, February.
  15. 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.
  16. Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2004. "Investigating the Patterns and Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Germany Following Reunification," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
  17. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2006. "Some Uses of Happiness Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 25-46, Winter.
  18. Paul Frijters & John P. Haisken-DeNew & Michael A. Shields, 2004. "Money Does Matter! Evidence from Increasing Real Income and Life Satisfaction in East Germany Following Reunification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 730-740, June.
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