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Does the stork deliver happiness? Parenthood and life satisfaction


Baetschmann, Gregori; Staub, Kevin E; Studer, Raphael (2012). Does the stork deliver happiness? Parenthood and life satisfaction. Working paper series / Department of Economics 94, University of Zurich.

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.

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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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:D10, J11, J12, J13
Uncontrolled Keywords:Happiness, subjective well-being, children, fertility, mother- hood, parenthood, life cycle, selection, matching, fixed effects
Language:English
Date:October 2012
Deposited On:26 Oct 2012 11:57
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:02
Series Name:Working paper series / Department of Economics
Number of Pages:41
ISSN:1664-7041
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp/econwp094.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/workingpapers.php
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-65882

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