Predicted happiness from childbearing and fertility behaviour

Arnstein Aassve, Università Bocconi
Anna Barbuscia, Collegio Carlo Alberto
Letizia Mencarini, Università degli Studi di Torino and Collegio Carlo Alberto

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 the extent to which childbearing is realized. “Expected happiness” as declared by individuals, is indeed a powerful predictor of their fertility behavior. Those who expect to be happier from childbearing, have indeed a much higher probability of having a child within the next 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 instance, in Italy we see that individuals tend to have a strong association between happiness and childbearing, whereas 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 only children.

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Presented in Session 72: Fertility and happiness