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Does the stork deliver happiness? Parenthood and life satisfaction

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  • Gregori Baetschmann
  • Kevin E. Staub
  • Raphael Studer

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between parenthood and life satisfaction using longitudinal data on women from the German Socio-Economic Panel. Previous studies have focused on satisfaction differences between parents and comparable childless adults, mostly finding small and often negative effects of parenthood. These comparisons of ex-post similar individuals are problematic if a self-selection into motherhood exists. In this study we examine the selection issue in detail by exploiting the extended longitudinal dimension of the panel to track self-reported life satisfaction of women eventually to become mothers and of women eventually attaining a completed fertility of zero. We document that these groups' satisfaction paths diverge around five years before mothers' first birth, even after adjusting for differences in observables. In our estimations, we employ matching and regression techniques which account for this selection into motherhood. We find motherhood to be associated with substantial positive satisfaction gains.

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  • Gregori Baetschmann & Kevin E. Staub & Raphael Studer, 2012. "Does the stork deliver happiness? Parenthood and life satisfaction," ECON - Working Papers 094, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:094
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    Cited by:

    1. Jona Schellekens, 2019. "Does the association between children and happiness vary by level of religiosity? The evidence from Israel," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 41(5), pages 103-124.
    2. Radó, Márta & Boissonneault, Michaël, 2020. "Short and long-term change in subjective well-being among voluntary and involuntary retirees," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 17(C).
    3. Tatiana Karabchuk, 2016. "The subjective well-being of women in Europe: children, work and employment protection legislation," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 15(2), pages 219-245, November.
    4. Hielke Buddelmeyer & Daniel S. Hamermesh & Mark Wooden, 2015. "The Stress Cost of Children," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2015n01, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    5. Barbara Pertold-Gebicka & Dominika Spolcova, 2019. "Family Size and Subjective Well-being in Europe: Do More Children Make Us (Un)Happy?," Working Papers IES 2019/24, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Aug 2019.
    6. Małgorzata Mikucka & Ester Rizzi, 2020. "The Parenthood and Happiness Link: Testing Predictions from Five Theories," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 36(2), pages 337-361, April.
    7. Mikucka, Malgorzata, 2015. "How does parenthood affect life satisfaction in Russia?," MPRA Paper 65376, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Jan Priebe, 2020. "Quasi-experimental evidence for the causal link between fertility and subjective well-being," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 33(3), pages 839-882, July.
    9. Blanca Zuluaga, 2018. "Early childbearing and the option to postpone," Revista Cuadernos de Economía, Universidad Nacional de Colombia -FCE - CID, vol. 37(73), February.
    10. Buddelmeyer, Hielke & Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Wooden, Mark, 2018. "THE stress cost of children on moms and dads," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 148-161.
    11. Márta K. Radó, 2020. "Tracking the Effects of Parenthood on Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from Hungary," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 21(6), pages 2069-2094, August.
    12. Henriques, C.O. & Marcenaro-Gutierrez, O.D. & Lopez-Agudo, Luis Alejandro, 2020. "Getting a balance in the life satisfaction determinants of full-time and part-time European workers," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 87-113.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; subjective well-being; children; fertility; mother- hood; parenthood; life cycle; selection; matching; fixed effects;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • 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

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