Date: 04 Feb 2014

Are pregnant women happier? Racial and ethnic differences in the relationship between pregnancy and life satisfaction in the United States

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Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between pregnancy and life satisfaction for US women of childbearing age using a large sample from the 2005 to 2009 waves of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The results show strong differences by race and ethnicity. Pregnancy has a significant positive correlation with happiness for Whites and Hispanics, but no relationship for Blacks. This differential in the marginal effect of pregnancy is in addition to a general decrease in satisfaction for Black women, independent of being pregnant. The results cannot be explained by differences in other demographics such age, income, education, or physical health status. Within each racial/ethnic group, the results are consistent across different categories for all these characteristics. Racial and ethnic differences in the effects of pregnancy on support from others can partly explain this result. For Whites and Hispanic women, pregnancy increases their feelings of social and emotional support from others, while pregnant Black women report lower levels of social and emotional support than non-pregnant Black women.