Advertisement

Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 447–467 | Cite as

Children, spousal love, and happiness: an economic analysis

  • Shoshana GrossbardEmail author
  • Sankar Mukhopadhyay
Article

Abstract

In this paper we examine how children affect happiness and relationships within a family by analyzing two unique questions in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth’s 1997 cohort. We find that (a) presence of children is associated with a loss of spousal love; (b) loss of spousal love is associated with loss of overall happiness; but (c) presence of children is not associated with significant loss of overall happiness. If children reduce feelings of being loved by the spouse but do not reduce reported happiness even though spousal love induces happiness, then it must be the case that children contribute to parental happiness by providing other benefits. After ruling out some competing compensation mechanisms we infer that loss of spousal love is compensated with altruistic feelings towards children.

Keywords

Children Happiness Emotions Marriage Religion 

JEL Classification

J13 D10 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the referees, J. Ignacio Gimenez, Lawrence Iannaconne, Pierre-Guillaume Meon, Ariane Sarfadz, and participants at seminars at Chapman University and the Brussels School of Economics and Management for helpful comments.

References

  1. Alger, I., & Cox, D. (2013). The evolution of altruistic preferences: mothers versus fathers. Review of Economic of the Household. doi: 10.1007/s11150-013-9201-1.
  2. Andreoni, J. (1989). Giving with impure altruism: Applications to charity and Ricardian equivalence. Journal of Political Economy, 97(6), 1447–1458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andreoni, J. (1990). Impure altruism and donations to public goods: A theory of warm-glow giving. Economic Journal, 100(401), 464–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andreoni, J., & Vesterlund, L. (2001). Which is the fair sex? Gender differences in altruism. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 116(1), 293–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Becker, G. S. (1960). An economic analysis of fertility. In: Demographic and economic change in developed countries. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
  6. Becker, G. S. (1974). A theory of social interactions. Journal of Political Economy, 82(6), 1063–1093.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Becker, G. S., & Barro, R. J. (1988). A reformulation of the economic theory of fertility. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 100(412), 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bryan, M. L., & Sevilla-Sanz, A. (2011). Does housework lower wages? Evidence for Britain. Oxford Economic Papers, 63(1), 187–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cigno, A. (1993). Intergenerational transfers without altruism: Family, market and state. European Journal of Political Economy, 9(4), 505–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, A. E., & Oswald, A. J. (2002). A simple statistical method for measuring how life events affect happiness. International Journal of Epidemiology, 31(6), 1139–1144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Craig, L., & Bittman, M. (2008). The incremental time costs of children: An analysis of children’s impact on adult time use in Australia. Feminist Economics, 14(2), 59–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Croson, R., & Gneezy, U. (2009). Gender differences in preferences. Journal of Economic Literature, 47(2), 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Easterlin, R. A. (2003). Explaining happiness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(19), 11176–11183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ekert-Jaffe, O., & Grossbard, S. (forthcoming). Time cost of children as parents’ foregone leisure. Mathematical Population Studies.Google Scholar
  15. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A., & Frijters, P. (2004). How important is methodology for the estimates of the determinants of happiness? Economic Journal, 114, 641–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Francesconi, M. (2002). A joint dynamic model of fertility and work of married women. Journal of Labor Economics, 20(2), 336–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Giannelli, G. C., Mangiavacchi, L., & Piccoli, L. (2012). GDP and the value of family caretaking: How much does Europe care? Applied Economics, 44(16), 2111–2131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gimenez-Nadal, J. I., & Sevilla-Sanz, A. (2012). Trends in time allocation: A cross-country analysis. European Economic Review, 56(6), 1338–1359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grossbard-Shechtman, S. A. (1993). On the economics of marriage. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gustafsson, B., & Kjulin, U. (1994). Time use in child care and housework and the total cost of children. Journal of Population Economics, 7(3), 287–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Guth, W., Schmidt, C., & Sutter, M. (2007). Bargaining outside the lab—a newspaper experiment of a three-person ultimatum game. Economic Journal, 117(518), 449–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gutiérrez-Domènech, M. (2010). Parental employment and time with children in Spain. Review of Economics of the Household, 8(3), 371–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hakim, C. (2003). Lifestyle preferences and patriarchal values: Causal and non-causal attitudes and values. In J. Z. Giele & E. Holst (Eds.), Changing life patterns in western industrial societies. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  24. Innocenti, A., & Pazienza, M. G. (2006). Altruism and gender in the trust game. Labsi Working Paper No. 5/2006. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=884378.
  25. Kohler, H.-P., Behrman, J. R., & Skytthe, A. (2005). Partner + children = happiness? An assessment of the effect of fertility and partnerships on subjective well-being in Danish twins. Population and Development Review, 31(3), 407–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McLanahan, S., & Adams, J. (1987). Parenthood and psychological wellbeing. In Turner and Short (Eds.), Annual review of sociology (pp. 237–257). Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews, Inc.Google Scholar
  27. Mincer, J. (1962). Labor force participation of married women: A study of labor supply. In H. Gregg Lewis (Ed.), Aspects of labor economics. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Mincer, J. (1963). Market prices opportunity costs and income effects. In C. Christ et al. (Eds.), Measurement in economics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Mukhopadhyay, S. (2008). Do women value marriage more? The effect of obesity on cohabitation and marriage in the USA. Review of Economics of the Household, 6(2), 111–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nomaguchi, K. M., & Milkie, M. A. (2003). Costs and rewards of children: The effects of becoming a parent on adults’ lives. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65(2), 356–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Schwarze, J., & Winkelmann, R. (2005). What can happiness research tell us about altruism? Evidence from the German socio-economic panel. Discussion Paper 1487, IZA.Google Scholar
  32. Waite, L., & Gallagher, M. (2000). The case for marriage. New York City: Broadway Books.Google Scholar
  33. Waldfogel, J. (1998). Understanding the ‘family gap’ in pay for women with children. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 12(1), 137–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Whittington, L. A. (1992). Taxes and the family: The impact of the tax exemption for dependents on marital fertility. Demography, 29(2), 215–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Willis, R. J. (1974). A new approach to the economic theory of fertility behavior. In T. W. Schultz (Ed.), Economics of the family. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  36. Wilson, E. O. (1985). Sociobiology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.University of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  3. 3.IZABonnGermany
  4. 4.University of NevadaRenoUSA

Personalised recommendations