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More and none? Children and parental well-being: A bimodal outcome from an instrumental variable approach

Stefani Milovanska-Farrington and Stephen Farrington

Research in Economics, 2021, vol. 75, issue 3, 225-243

Abstract: We examine the effect of the marginal child and the total number of children on self-reported well-being as a proxy for happiness. Prior literature has not controlled for endogeneity. We propose an instrumental variable approach which remediates the existing endogeneity problem, and generates a non-linear marginal effect and a bimodal distribution which explains why prior research arrived at competing positive, negative, or inconclusive outcomes. We provide evidence in support of a "parenting happiness gap" where happiness declines after the birth of the first child; however, beyond the first child additional children have a significant, positive and increasing effect on well-being. Confirmed by evidence from sociology and psychology literature, we consider possible channels which explain these results and discuss their policy implications in the context of fertility, labor market and health outcomes.

Keywords: Life satisfaction; Happiness; Subjective well-being; Children; Instrument; Maternity leave (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D10 I31 J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:reecon:v:75:y:2021:i:3:p:225-243

DOI: 10.1016/j.rie.2021.06.002

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