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Unlocking the black box of life satisfaction surrounding childbearing

Working paper n°: 120

Unit: Population Dynamics and Health

Author(s): Arnstein Aassve, Francesca Luppi, Letizia Mencarini.

Year: 2018

The vast majority of studies looking into the relationship between childbearing and subjective well-being uses overall measures where respondents either report their general level of happiness or their life satisfaction, leaving substantial doubt about the underlying mechanisms. However, life satisfaction and happiness are intuitively multidimensional concepts, simply because there cannot be only one aspect that affects individuals' well-being. In this study, by considering seventeen specific life satisfaction domains, these features come out very clearly. Whereas all the domains considered matter for the overall life satisfaction, only three of them, namely satisfaction with leisure, health and satisfaction with the partnership, change dramatically surrounding childbearing events. Even though we cannot generalize (since these results stems from one particular panel survey, i.e. Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia data), it appears that the typical anticipation and post-child decrease of life satisfaction, so often found in existing studies, stem from changes in these three domains.


Arnstein Aassve Bocconi University, Italy

Francesca Luppi University of Turin, Italy

Letizia Mencarini Bocconi University, Italy


Language: English

The paper may be downloaded here.

Last updated 22 May 2018 - 20:39:19