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

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    It is the Socio-Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA) that ranks Australian regions according to relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage. It is computed based on the five-yearly census; for more information, see Adhikari (2006).

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Acknowledgments

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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Correspondence to Anna Matysiak.

Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 2 and 3.

Table 2 Estimates from fixed-effects linear regression with life satisfaction as dependent variable, women
Table 3 Estimates from fixed-effects linear regression with life satisfaction as dependent variable, men

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Matysiak, A., Mencarini, L. & Vignoli, D. Work–Family Conflict Moderates the Relationship Between Childbearing and Subjective Well-Being. Eur J Population 32, 355–379 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-016-9390-4

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Keywords

  • Fertility
  • Subjective well-being
  • Work–family conflict