Does Having Children Bring Life Satisfaction in Europe?

  • Zeynep B. UgurEmail author
Research Paper


This study investigates the effect of having children on parents’ life satisfaction and happiness in Europe. We utilize four waves of the European Values Survey (EVS) from 1981 to 2008. To identify causality, we use instrumental variables estimation. We exploit time and country level variation in five family policies as instruments for having children. For parents who have had children due to the generosity of family policies, having children increases parent’s life satisfaction by 0.33–0.41 points on a 10 point scale. This effect is significantly more pronounced when parents are over the age of 50. Yet, children’s effects on life satisfaction and happiness is negative for single and full-time working parents. The positive effect of having children on life satisfaction and happiness has substantially eroded over the EVS waves which explains the reductions in the fertility rate in Europe.


Fertility Subjective well-being Family policies 

JEL Classification

I12 I31 I18 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Sciences University of AnkaraUlus, AnkaraTurkey

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