Well-being consequences of fertility trajectories childless women and men – is there a happiness penalty of non-realized fertility intentions?

Zsolt Speder, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute
Balázs Kapitány, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute

This research aims to understand the well-being consequences of different childbearing trajectories. We follow childless people during 11 years and ask what kind of well-being outcomes has the transition to parenthood on the one hand, and whether there are any well-being consequences of remaining childless. Furthermore, is there any penalty if childbearing intentions haven’t realized, and intentions remained unfulfilled? Fertility trajectories are constructed according the number of children, and according the durability of intentions (continuous postponement, abandonment). Well-being at the start of the investigation and after 11 years is compared. Using both material and subjective measures of well-being, trade of between different aspects of well-being is also considered. On the one side we expect increased subjective well-being in case of transition to parenthood, on the other side we assume happiness penalty in case of non-intended childlessness. Using fixed effect models we reveal different well-being consequences of fertility transitions of woman and man. Abandoner, who could not realize their fertility intention during the 11 years, seems to suffer happiness penalty.

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Presented in Session 4: Well-being and gender attitudes