Wellbeing and Fertility, a Two Way RelationshipTHE ERC PROJECT OF LETIZIA MENCARINI HIGHLIGHTS THAT THE HAPPINESS OF MOTHERS IS GREATER THAN OF NON MOTHERS ONLY WHERE AN ADEQUATE WELFARE SYSTEM EXISTS
In some countries fertility rates are lower than in others, even if their citizens live in similar socioeconomic conditions. In order to explain these differences, Letizia Mencarini (Department of Management and Technology) introduced the subjective well-being variable and studied its relations with fertility behavior in both comparative and longitudinal perspectives. “There is no universal formula. Having children may have a positive or a negative effect on subjective well-being depending on wealth, welfare, gender. In turn, subjective well-being affects the fertility behavior”.
The happiness level is the object of a paper based on European data which is part of the ERC-funded project Subjective Well-Being and Fertility (SWELL-FER), hosted by Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy: in the presence of a generous welfare system, mothers are on average more happier than non-mothers. Fathers, however, are happier than non-fathers regardless of welfare policies. “Australian individual data tell us that there is much heterogeneity among parents and a proper work-life balance can fully mitigate the negative consequences of having the first child”.
According to a line of psychological studies, subjective well-being depends mainly on personality traits, which would make any family policy ineffective. “We proved it wrong in a research based on German data: even when you take into account the personality traits, a higher subjective well-being more frequently leads to having a child and it is especially true for second born sons”.
Now there is the will to focus on Italy, but unfortunately there are no adequate longitudinal datasets for the country. “We have found better data in Ethiopia, where fertility is very high and it is gratifying to fathers more than to mothers, especially in old age”.
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by Claudio Todesco