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Expected happiness from childbearing and its realization

Number: 62
Year: 2014
Author(s): Arnstein Aassve, Anna Barbuscia, Letizia Mencarini
ABSTRACT Using longitudinal data from the Generations and Gender Surveys (for Bulgaria, France, and Italy), we study the determinants of predicted happiness associated with childbearing and then its role for explaining realized childbearing. “Expected happiness”, as declared by individuals, is indeed a powerful predictor of their fertility behavior. Those who expect to be happier from childbearing indeed have a much higher probability of having a child within the following three years.  But the results also show strong gender and country differences in the level of expected happiness and its effect on fertility behavior. For example, in Italy we see that individuals tend to have a high expected happiness from childbearing, yet realized fertility is low. What separates this study from recent papers considering happiness and fertility is that in the GGS the question about happiness is specific with respect to childbearing. Previous studies tend to focus on overall happiness, which has the drawback of, first, having relatively low variation in responses, and second, it refers to the general level of happiness, which incorporates a whole range of factors, not just children.

Arnstein Aassve

Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, Bocconi University (Milan, Italy)


Anna Barbuscia

Collegio Carlo Alberto (Turin, Italy) and Population Europe (Berlin, Germany)


Letizia Mencarini

Collegio Carlo Alberto and University of Turin (Turin, Italy)


The paper may be downloaded here.