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Suffer the Little Children: Measuring the Effects of Parenthood on Well-Being Worldwide

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  • Luca Stanca

Abstract

This paper tests the rational-choice approach to fertility decisions by investigating the relationship between parenthood and well-being in a large sample of individuals from 94 countries. We find that world- wide, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, having children has a negative effect on well-being. Conditioning on age, gender, marital status and education can only partially help to interpret this finding. We show that the negative effect of parent- hood on well-being is explained by a large adverse impact on financial satisfaction, that on average dominates the positive impact on non- financial satisfaction. The results are robust to alternative empirical specifications and to the inclusion of the reported ideal number of children as a proxy variable to address the endogeneity of parenthood decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Luca Stanca, 2009. "Suffer the Little Children: Measuring the Effects of Parenthood on Well-Being Worldwide," Working Papers 173, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:173
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    well-being; fertility; children; decision-making;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income

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