Life satisfaction amongst working parents: examining the case of mothers and fathers in Ireland

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Walsh, Edel
Murphy, Aileen
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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of having minor children on parents' life satisfaction. Given the demands on working parents in terms of their time and financial resources, the authors suspect a complex interaction between employment and parenthood and explore the effect of parenthood on life satisfaction of mothers and fathers, working parents and those with children of various ages. Design/methodology/approach: Data from three rounds of the European Social Survey (R3 2006/07, R5 2010/11 and R8 2016/17) are used to account for Ireland's changing economic landscape. Three ordered probit models are estimated examining parents, and mothers and fathers separately. Findings: The findings indicate that any life satisfaction benefits derived from having children appear to be eroded for working parents. There is a negative association between life satisfaction for working mothers with child(ren) aged between 5 and 12 years. Furthermore, when both parents are working, mothers' life satisfaction is also significantly reduced. Practical implications: Family policies and supports can shape the effects of parenthood on individual wellbeing and decisions regarding parenthood. Such policies need to be purposeful for working parents of school going children and consistent with economic strategy and labour market goals. Originality/value: Much of the existing economic research on individual wellbeing and parenthood are focused on the fertility decision rather than examining the factors affecting the life satisfaction of different cohorts of parents thus leading to more targeted and informed policies. Contemporary weighting methodology is employed.
Life satisfaction , Parents , Employment , Gender , Utility theory
Walsh, E. and Murphy, A. (2021) 'Life satisfaction amongst working parents: examining the case of mothers and fathers in Ireland', International Journal of Social Economics, 48 (4), pp.622-639. doi: 10.1108/IJSE-05-2020-0295
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