Does Parenthood Make Happy People Happier?

26 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2015

See all articles by Evgenia Samoilova

Evgenia Samoilova

University of Mannheim - Department of Statistics and Methodology

Colin Vance

Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI)

Date Written: June 5, 2015


Drawing on panel data from Germany, this paper analyzes the correlates of happiness, with an eye toward isolating the role of parenthood over the lifecycle. The analysis couples a panel quantile regression with an empirical specification that captures different phases of parenthood, from the year preceding the birth of a child to the time when all adult children have left the household. Together, these features allow us to formally test for heterogeneity in the association of children with happiness according to the intrinsic happiness of the parent, the age mix of their children, and whether adult children reside at home. While the two years following the birth of the first child is associated with significantly higher happiness, this result fades away with age and with the presence of siblings. Moreover, the relationship between parenthood and happiness is relatively invariant to the parent’s intrinsic level of happiness.

Keywords: Panel quantile regression; subjective well-being; GSOEP; parenthood

JEL Classification: J13, C22

Suggested Citation

Samoilova, Evgenia and Vance, Colin, Does Parenthood Make Happy People Happier? (June 5, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Evgenia Samoilova

University of Mannheim - Department of Statistics and Methodology ( email )

Mannheim, 68131

Colin Vance (Contact Author)

Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI) ( email )

Hohenzollernstr. 1-3
Essen, 45128
0049-201-8149-237 (Phone)


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