Social Indicators Research

, Volume 138, Issue 1, pp 353–372 | Cite as

Parenthood and Quality of Life in Old Age: The Role of Individual Resources, the Welfare State and the Economy

  • Franz Stephan Neuberger
  • Klaus Preisner


We analyse the relationship between parenthood and quality of life in old age. Our main rationale is that the effect of having children on the quality of life varies with individual financial well-being as well as with the societal context, e.g. the welfare state and the economy. Analyses are based on the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (wave 2 and 4) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (wave 6) with respondents aged 50 plus from 19 European countries in all. We find the effect of parenthood on quality of life to depend on individual resources, the economy and social service expenditures. Older persons with difficulties in making ends meet, living in less affluent countries with lower gross domestic product per capita and welfare states with higher spending on social services benefit the most from parenthood in late life. Women and men in financial ease do not benefit from parenthood in old age. We do not find substantial gender differences in the relationship of parenthood and quality of life.


Quality of life Parenthood Gross domestic product Welfare state Europe 



“This paper uses data from SHARE Waves 2, and 5 (DOIs:  10.6103/SHARE.w2.260,  10.6103/SHARE.w4.111), see Börsch-Supan et al. (2013) for methodological details.

The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through FP5 (QLK6-CT-2001-00360), FP6 (SHARE-I3: RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE: CIT5-CT-2005-028857, SHARELIFE: CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and FP7 (SHARE-PREP: No 211909, SHARE-LEAP: No 227822, SHARE M4: No 261982). Additional funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research, the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01_AG09740-13S2, P01_AG005842, P01_AG08291, P30_AG12815, R21_AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG_BSR06-11, OGHA_04-064) and from various national funding sources is gratefully acknowledged (see” Furthermore this paper uses data from the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing: “The data were made available through the UK Data Archive. ELSA was developed by a team of researchers based at the NatCen Social Research, University College London and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The data were collected by NatCen Social Research. The funding is provided by the National Institute of Aging in the United States, and a consortium of UK government departments co-ordinated by the Office for National Statistics. The developers and funders of ELSA and the Archive do not bear any responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here”.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Youth InstituteMunichGermany
  2. 2.Institute of SociologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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