Are married with children happy? A study on the relationship between subjective well-being and fertility in Turkey

Hilal Arslan, Jacobs University Bremen
Alanur Cavlin, Hacettepe University

Recently, promoting fertility as become main target of the population policy Turkey. The birth support programs, including incentive packages for mothers, started with third child campaigns, initiated by the former Prime Minister. Leave the debate on whether the minimum number of children should be three or five in the public aside, the majority of the people believe that marriage without kids are not successful, and think that having kids within marriage is the recipe for happiness. Having few number of studies on questioning the empirical relationship between the partnership, childbearing, and subjective well-being, previous evidence suggest that the existence and direction of the effect of having kids on people’s subjective well-being is inconclusive and differs across societies. This study aims to contribute to a recently growing area of research by providing insights about the nature of the relationship between fertility and happiness in Turkey by investigating its trends and determinants in the last twenty years. We use a pooled data from World Values Survey (WVS) (1996, 2001, 2007, and 2011) that provides a unique opportunity to observe child parity and subjective well-being for Turkey. For data analysis, we used descriptive statistics to track the relationship between fertility and life satisfaction levels according to gender, age, employment status and income. Secondly, OLS regression models were run to further exploring this relationship. We find out that until 2001 financial crisis, there is clear differentiation in the mean levels of life satisfaction among the people with respect to the number of children they have. After economic recovery period starts, this happiness gap starts to decrease and almost disappears in 2011. The results of our regression analysis show that the number of children has a negative effect on women’s subjective well-being. Whereas men’s satisfaction with their lives is not associated with having kids.

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Presented in Session 80: Happiness and childbearing