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Department ofEconomics


The Increasing Happiness of Parents

John Ifcher, Chris Herbst

Review of Economics of the Household 14(3), pp. 529-551, September 2016 formerly entitled, “A Bundle of Joy: Does Parenting Really Make Us Miserable?”

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Previous research suggests that parents may be less happy than non-parents. We critically assess the literature and examine parents’ and non-parents’ happiness-trends using the General Social Survey (N = 42,298) and DDB Lifestyle Survey (N = 75,237). We find that parents are becoming happier over time relative to non-parents, that non-parents’ happiness is declining absolutely, and that estimates of the parental happiness gap are sensitive to the time-period analyzed. These results are consistent across two datasets, most subgroups, and various specifications. Finally, we present evidence that suggests children appear to protect parents against social and economic forces that may be reducing happiness among non-parents.


LSB Research, ECON, 2016, John Ifcher