Malgorzata Mikucka, Ester Rizzi
The Parenthood and Happiness Link: Testing Predictions from Five Theories

European Journal of Population, 2020: 36, issue 2, pp. 337–361
ISSN: 0168-6577 (print); 1572-9885 (online)

This research studied the relationship between parenthood and life satisfaction in Switzerland. We tested predictions derived from set-point theory, the economic model of parenthood, the approaches that underscore work–family conflict and the psychological rewards from parenthood, and the ‘taste for children’ theory. We used Swiss Household Panel data (2000–2018) to analyse how life satisfaction changed during parenthood (fixed-effects regression) separately for a first child and a second child, mothers and fathers, and various socio-demographic groups. Our results showed that having a second child, which is common in Switzerland, correlates negatively with mothers’ life satisfaction. The observed patterns are consistent with the idea that mothers’ life satisfaction trajectories reflect work–family conflict. We found partial support for the set-point and the ‘taste for children’ theories. Our results did not support the approaches that emphasize the importance of psychological rewards from parenthood.