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Maternal Life Satisfaction and Child Outcomes: Are They Related?

  • Eva M. Berger
  • C. Katharina Spieß

This paper investigates the association between maternal life satisfaction and the developmental functioning of two- to three-year-old children as well as the socio-emotional behaviorof five- to six-year-old children. We use data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), which allows us to control for a rich set of child and parental characteristics and to use the mother's life satisfaction before the birth of her child as an instrument to eliminate potential reverse causality. The results indicate that the more satisfied the mother, the better her child's verbal skills and the lower his or her socio-emotional problems. The relation is more pronounced for boys than for girls. The results are robust even when mothers' personality or mothers' cognitive skills are controlled for.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.344455.de/diw_sp0242.pdf
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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 242.

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Length: 41 p.
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp242
Contact details of provider: Postal: Mohrenstraße 58, D-10117 Berlin
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Web page: http://www.diw.de/en/soepEmail:


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  1. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2005. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 11331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jürgen Schupp & C. Katharina Spieß & Gert G. Wagner, 2008. "Die verhaltenswissenschaftliche Weiterentwicklung des Erhebungsprogramms des SOEP," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 77(3), pages 63-76.
  3. Cawley, John & Spiess, C. Katharina, 2008. "Obesity and skill attainment in early childhood," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 388-397, December.
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  6. Eliana Garces & Duncan Thomas & Janet Currie, 2000. "Longer Term Effects of Head Start," Working Papers 00-20, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  7. James J. Heckman, 2007. "The Economics, Technology and Neuroscience of Human Capability Formation," NBER Working Papers 13195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  10. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  11. Christina Felfe & Amy Hsin, 2009. "The Effect of Maternal Work Conditions on Child Development," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2009 2009-32, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  12. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
  13. Jürgen Schupp & Sabrina Herrmann & Peter Jaensch & Frieder R. Lang, 2008. "Erfassung kognitiver Leistungspotentiale Erwachsener im Sozio-oekonomischen Panel (SOEP)," Data Documentation 32, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  14. Pfeiffer, Friedhelm & Coneus, Katja, 2007. "Self-Productivity in Early Childhood," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-053 [rev.], ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  15. Thomas Siedler & JÜrgen Schupp & C. Katharina Spiess & Gert G. Wagner, 2009. "The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) as Reference Data Set," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 129(2), pages 367-374.
  16. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Anger, Silke & Heineck, Guido, 2010. "Do Smart Parents Raise Smart Children? The Intergenerational Transmission of Cognitive Abilities," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 1105-1132.
  18. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
  19. Jennifer Hill & Jane Waldfogel & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, 2002. "Differential effects of high-quality child care," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(4), pages 601-627.
  20. Susanne James-Burdumy, 2005. "The Effect of Maternal Labor Force Participation on Child Development," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 177-211, January.
  21. Beck A. Taylor & Eric Dearing & Kathleen McCartney, 2004. "Incomes and Outcomes in Early Childhood," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
  22. Magnuson, Katherine A. & Ruhm, Christopher & Waldfogel, Jane, 2007. "Does prekindergarten improve school preparation and performance?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 33-51, February.
  23. Charles L. Baum II, 2003. "Does Early Maternal Employment Harm Child Development? An Analysis of the Potential Benefits of Leave Taking," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 381-408, April.
  24. Todd E. Elder & Darren H. Lubotsky, 2009. "Kindergarten Entrance Age and Children’s Achievement: Impacts of State Policies, Family Background, and Peers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
  25. 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.
  26. Coneus, Katja & Sprietsma, Maresa, 2009. "Intergenerational transmission of human capital in early childhood," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-038, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  27. Fitzpatrick Maria D, 2008. "Starting School at Four: The Effect of Universal Pre-Kindergarten on Children's Academic Achievement," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-40, November.
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