European Journal of Population

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 355–379 | Cite as

Work–Family Conflict Moderates the Relationship Between Childbearing and Subjective Well-Being

  • Anna MatysiakEmail author
  • Letizia Mencarini
  • Daniele Vignoli


Many empirical studies find that parents are not as happy as non-parents or that parenthood exerts a negative effect on subjective well-being (SWB). We add to these findings by arguing that there is a key moderating factor that has been overlooked in previous research, i.e. the level of work–family conflict. We hypothesize that the birth of a child means an increase in the level of work–family tension, which may be substantial for some parents and relatively weak for others. To outline such an approach, we estimate fixed-effects models using panel data from the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia survey. We find that childbearing negatively affects SWB only when parents, mothers in particular, face a substantial work–family conflict, providing thus support for our hypothesis.


Fertility Subjective well-being Work–family conflict 



The authors contributed to the paper equally and are listed alphabetically. Letizia Mencarini and Daniele Vignoli gratefully acknowledge financial support from the European Research Council under the European ERC Grant Agreement no StG-313617 (SWELL-FER: Subjective Well-being and Fertility, P. I. Letizia Mencarini). The collaboration with Anna Matysiak was supported by the European Research Council under the European ERC Grant Agreement no 284238 (EURREP: Fertility and Reproduction in the twenty-first Century, PI Tomáš Sobotka). We are grateful to Francesca Luppi for her help at the early stages of this project. This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to either DSS or the Melbourne Institute.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Matysiak
    • 1
    Email author
  • Letizia Mencarini
    • 2
  • Daniele Vignoli
    • 3
  1. 1.Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human CapitalVienna Institute of Demography, Austrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria
  2. 2.Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public PolicyBocconi UniversityMilanItaly
  3. 3.University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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