, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 1331–1351 | Cite as

Fertility and Life Satisfaction in Rural Ethiopia

  • Pierluigi ConzoEmail author
  • Giulia Fuochi
  • Letizia Mencarini


Despite recent strong interest in the link between fertility and subjective well-being, the focus has centered on developed countries. For poorer countries, in contrast, the relationship remains rather elusive. Using a well-established panel survey—the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey (ERHS)—we investigate the empirical relationship between fertility and life satisfaction in rural Ethiopia, the largest landlocked country in Africa. Consistent with the fertility theories for developing countries and with the sociodemographic characteristics of rural Ethiopia, we hypothesize that this relationship varies by gender and across life stages, being more positive for men and for parents in old age. Indeed, our results suggest that older men benefit the most in terms of life satisfaction from having a large number of children, while the recent birth of a child is detrimental for the subjective well-being of women at reproductive ages. We address endogeneity issues by using lagged life satisfaction in ordinary least squares regressions, through fixed-effects estimation and the use of instrumental variables.


Fertility Life satisfaction Subjective well-being Development Gender 



The authors 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).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierluigi Conzo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Giulia Fuochi
    • 3
    • 4
  • Letizia Mencarini
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Economics and Statistics “Cognetti de Martiis,” University of TurinTurinItaly
  2. 2.Collegio Carlo AlbertoMoncalieriItaly
  3. 3.Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied PsychologyUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly
  4. 4.Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public PolicyBocconi UniversityMilanItaly

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