Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 501–524

Marriage and Children as a Key to Happiness? Cross-National Differences in the Effects of Marital Status and Children on Well-Being

Research Paper


This research examines the relationship between family structure and subjective well-being and the extent to which cultural differences across 24 countries/regions may condition that relationship. Using the 2002 ISSP data, we examine how the effects of marriage status and the presence of children on happiness and satisfaction with family life differ according to the perceived importance of marriage and parenthood in society. We find significant cross-country differences in the relationship between presence of young children and the happiness of men, and in the relationship between the marital status of women and their happiness and satisfaction with family life.


Marriage Cohabitation Cross-national Subjective well-being Normative structure 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sofie Vanassche
    • 1
  • Gray Swicegood
    • 2
  • Koen Matthijs
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Social SciencesCentre for Sociological ResearchLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of IllinoisChampaignUSA

Personalised recommendations