Comparative policy perspectives of happiness and childbearing

Arnstein Aassve, Università Bocconi
Maria Sironi, University of Pennsylvania

This paper considers the links between parenthood, happiness and policies, taking a comparative perspective. Its motivation derives from recent analysis suggesting a positive relationship between happiness and fertility but more importantly – that the demography literature argues that there is little room for policy in influencing fertility. Taking a multilevel approach, we find that parental happiness, and thus wellbeing associated with childbearing, depends on a series of country characteristics – ranging from economic prosperity, trust, social capital and gender equality. We reflect on its policy implications and highlight the fact that direct measures of child friendliness, such as the supply of public childcare – though important – appear to matter less than for instance gender equality.

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Presented in Session 29: Optimal fertility, demographic dividend and policy challenges