Study Reveals New Parents More Prone to Unhappiness After First Child

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Marji_150815A new study published in the journal Demography suggests that many parents become unhappy after the birth of their first child, which may deter them from having more children.

Researchers assessed data of 2,301 German parents who took part in a German Socio-Economic Panel Study from 1984 to 2010.

Participants were required to complete a questionnaire each year, where they were rated on their levels of happiness on a scale from zero 10, with 10 being the maximum level of happiness. Parents were also questioned about other lifestyle factors, including employment, childbirth, and relationships.

Researchers assessed each participant’s level of happiness two years prior to the birth of their first child, during the transition to parenthood, and up to one year after the birth of their first child. The research team discovered that over 70% of parents became unhappier after the birth of their first child. During the transition to parenthood, the level of happiness dropped by 1.4 points on the happiness scale, compared with the level of  happiness two years before the birth of their first child.

Researchers also found that parents who experienced a decline on the happiness scale after giving birth to their first child were less likely to have more kids; 58% of the “unhappier” parents went on to have a second child in the following decade, compared to 66% of participants whose well-being did not decline.

Study author Rachel Margolis concludes, “We now know that the drop in happiness is important, if not imperative, for determining whether couples go on to have another child. The happiness drop that occurs during the transition to parenthood is quantitatively important and holds far more weight than other major changes in the relationship, work, and health of a couple when determining the choice to have more children.”

Sources for Today’s Article:
Margolis, R., et al., “Parental well-being surrounding first birth as a determinant of further parity progression,” Demography, http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13524-015-0413-2, doi: 10.1007/s13524-015-0413-2, published online August 4, 2015.
Whiteman, H., “Does becoming a parent make us miserable?” Medical News Today web site, August 13, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/298122.php.

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