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Does Lone Motherhood Decrease Women’s Subjective Well-Being? Evidence from Qualitative and Quantitative Research


  • Anna Baranowska-Rataj


  • Anna Matysiak


  • Monika Mynarska

    () (Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics
    Cardinal Stefan Wyszyñski University in Warsaw, Institute of Psychology)


This paper contributes to the discussion on the effects of single motherhood on happiness. We use a mixed-method approach. First, based on in-depth interviews with mothers who gave birth while single, we explore mechanisms through which children may influence mothers’ subjective well-being. In a second step, we analyze panel survey data to quantify this influence. Our results leave no doubt that, while raising a child outside of marriage poses many challenges, parenthood has some positive influence on a lone mother’s life. Our qualitative evidence shows that children are a central point in an unmarried woman’s life, and that many life decisions are taken with consideration of the child’s welfare, including escaping from pathological relationships. Our quantitative evidence shows that, although the general level of happiness among unmarried women is lower than among their married counterparts, raising a child does not have a negative impact on their subjective well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Anna Baranowska-Rataj & Anna Matysiak & Monika Mynarska, 2012. "Does Lone Motherhood Decrease Women’s Subjective Well-Being? Evidence from Qualitative and Quantitative Research," Working Papers 48, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:isd:wpaper:48

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gregori Baetschmann & Kevin E. Staub & Rainer Winkelmann, 2015. "Consistent estimation of the fixed effects ordered logit model," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 178(3), pages 685-703, June.
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    5. Anna Baranowska, 2011. "Premarital conceptions and their resolution. The decomposition of trends in rural and urban areas in Poland 1985-2009," Working Papers 27, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.
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    More about this item


    nonmarital childbearing; single motherhood; happiness; well-being; methodological triangulation; mixed methods;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income

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