Does the Stork Deliver Happiness? Parenthood and Life Satisfaction

University of Zurich Working Paper 94

42 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2012

See all articles by Gregori Baetschmann

Gregori Baetschmann

University of Zurich

Kevin E. Staub

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Raphael Studer

Independent

Date Written: October 24, 2012

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.

Keywords: Happiness, subjective well-being, children, fertility, mother- hood, parenthood, life cycle, selection, matching, fixed effects

JEL Classification: D10, J11, J12, J13

Suggested Citation

Baetschmann, Gregori and Staub, Kevin E. and Studer, Raphael, Does the Stork Deliver Happiness? Parenthood and Life Satisfaction (October 24, 2012). University of Zurich Working Paper 94. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2167277 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2167277

Gregori Baetschmann (Contact Author)

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006
Switzerland

Kevin E. Staub

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics ( email )

Melbourne, Victoria 3010
Australia

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Raphael Studer

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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