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A Bundle of Joy: Does Parenting Really Make Us Miserable?

46 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2011 Last revised: 17 May 2012

Chris M. Herbst

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Public Affairs

John Ifcher

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department

Date Written: May 16, 2012

Abstract

Previous research suggests that parents are less happy than non-parents. We critically assess the extant literature and reexamine the relationship between parental status and happiness using the GSS and LSS. We find that estimates of the “parental happiness gap” are sensitive to the inclusion of standard covariates, parents are becoming happier over time relative to non-parents, and non-parents' happiness is declining absolutely. These results are consistent across two datasets, apply to most sub-groups, and are robust to specification checks. Finally, we present evidence that suggests that children may inoculate parents against some social and economic forces that are reducing happiness.

Keywords: parents, happiness, life satisfaction, subjective well-being, General Social Survey (GSS), and DDB Lifestyle Survey (LSS)

JEL Classification: D60, D10

Suggested Citation

Herbst, Chris M. and Ifcher, John, A Bundle of Joy: Does Parenting Really Make Us Miserable? (May 16, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1883839 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1883839

Chris M. Herbst

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Public Affairs ( email )

Box 870603
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

John Ifcher (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA California 95053
United States

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