It takes two to tango: couples' happiness and childbearing

Arnstein Aassve, Università Bocconi
Bruno Arpino, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Nicoletta Balbo, Università Bocconi

Existing literature has so far considered the role of the individual's subjective well-being on fertility, neglecting the importance of the partner’s well-being. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and fixed-effect models estimated separately by parity, we find that in the couple, women's happiness matter more than that of the male partner in terms of having the first child. In contrast, we find the opposite effect for the progression to the second child. We also find support for a multiplicative effect of partners’ SWB on the decision to have a first child. Our results show that failing to acknowledge that the subjective well-being of both partners matter for the inherently joint decision making of childbearing, can lead to a biased view of how subjective well-being affects fertility.

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Presented in Session 80: Happiness and childbearing