The happiness–parenthood link in a context of limited state support: the case of Switzerland

Ester L. Rizzi, Université Catholique de Louvain
Malgorzata Mikucka, Université Catholique de Louvain

To ascertain the effect of different institutional settings on the happiness-parenthood link, new studies examining various national contexts are needed. The current research extends previous analyses by considering a new set of panel data, that is, the Swiss Household Panel. Our aim is to ascertain to what extent previous results on consequences of parenthood for life satisfaction are generalizable to a new context characterized by low state support for families. We use fixed effects models controlling for unobserved heterogeneity to analyze changes in life satisfaction for both mothers and fathers. Sub-samples of our stratified analyses (by parity and by sex of parents) include between 3,000 and 6,000 persons. If our findings are overall consistent with previous studies, specific features of the Swiss context emerge: (i) the absence of a peak of happiness for women at the birth of the second child, (ii) the important decline in happiness in subsequent years, and (iii), for more educated women, a strong and significant decline in happiness already after the birth of the first child. We interpret our results in the light of the low level of state support for families in Switzerland and the role played by state policies. Some puzzling results appear also for men, showing no significant change in happiness at the birth of the first and second child.

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Presented in Session 4: Well-being and gender attitudes