It takes two to tango: couples’ happiness and childbearing

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

August 15, 2016


The existing literature has so far considered the role of the individual’s subjective well-being on fertility, neglecting the importance of the partner’s well-being. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) and event history models estimated separately by parity, we find that in a couple, women’s happiness matters more than that of the male partner in terms of having the first child. Specifically, we observe that couples in which either partner is happier than usual are more at risk of having the first child, but the effect is stronger with higher happiness of the woman. For the transition to the second child, we find that couples in which the woman declares to be happier or less happy than usual have a lower risk of childbirth. We, moreover, find support for a multiplicative effect of partners’ SWB on the decision to have a first child. Our results show that failing to acknowledge that the subjective well-being of both partners matters for the inherently joint decision making of childbearing can lead to an incomplete view of how subjective well-being affects fertility.

Published in

European Journal of Population

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 32 , p.339 -354






Not held in Research Library - bibliographic reference only



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