Parenthood and Quality of Life in Old Age: The Role of Individual Resources, the Welfare State and the Economy
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.
KeywordsQuality of life Parenthood Gross domestic product Welfare state Europe
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 www.share-project.org).” 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”.
- Chambers, J. M., Cleveland, W. S., Kleiner, B., & Tukey, P. A. (1983). Graphical methods for data analysis. California: Wadsworth International Group.Google Scholar
- Gelman, A., & Hill, J. (2007). Data analysis using regression and multilevel/hierarchical models. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Gibney, S., Delaney, L., Codd, M., & Fahey, T. (2015). Lifetime childlessness, depressive mood and quality of life among older Europeans. Social Indicators Research, 130(1), 1–19.Google Scholar
- Haberkern, K., Schmid, T., Neuberger, F., & Grignon, M. (2011). The role of the elderly as providers and recipients of care. In OECD (Ed.), Future of families to 2030 (pp. 189–257). Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
- International Monetary Fund (2013). World Economic Outlook Database 2013. https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2013/02/weodata/index.aspx. Accessed 04 April 2015.
- Koropeckyj-Cox, T., Pienta, A. M., & Brown, T. H. (2007). Women of the 1950s and the ‘normative’ life course: The implications of childlessness, fertility timing, and marital status for psychological wellbeing in late midlife. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 64(4), 299–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Motel-Klingebiel, A., Tesch-Roemer, C., & Kondratowitz, H.-J. (2003). The role of family for quality of life in old age: A comparative perspective. In V. L. Bengtson & A. Lowenstein (Eds.), Global aging and challenges to families (pp. 327–355). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2016). http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?datasetcode=SOCX_AGG. Accessed 04 April 2016.
- Snijders, T. A., & Bosker, R. J. (1999). Multilevel analysis: An introduction to basic and advanced multilevel modelling. London: Sage Publications Ltd.Google Scholar
- Stoeckel, K. J., & Litwin, H. (2013). 24 Personal social networks in Europe: Do people from different countries have different interpersonal solidarities? In A. Börsch-Supan, M. Brandt, H. Litwin, & G. Weber (Eds.), Active ageing and solidarity between generations in Europe. Berlin: De Gruyter.Google Scholar