Partners' happiness trajectories surrounding the birth of a child: does divergence predict fertility intentions, fertility behavior, and risk of divorce?

Rachel Margolis, University of Western Ontario
Mikko Myrskylä, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

In order to understand how people make decisions about having children, demographers have increasingly turned to subjective well-being of parents. At a time when fertility is a matter of choice for most people in the world, subjective well-being can tell us why some choose to have children and why some progress to higher parities. Building on this research, we examine whether parents have similar happiness trajectories surrounding the birth of a child as their partner. Then we examine whether the similarity or difference in happiness trajectories within a couple affects three outcomes of interest- changes in fertility aspirations, fertility behavior, and the risk of divorce. We use two data sets: the German Socio-Economic Panel and British Household Panel Survey to analyze trajectories of well-being for respondents and their partners over a period before, directly after, and as children grow up. Our results may have important implications for explaining low progression to higher order births in these contexts.

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Presented in Poster Session 3