The transition to parenthood and well-being
Social Demnography Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute The Hague, The Netherlands
Social Demography Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute The Hague, Netherlands
Sociology Utrecht University Utrecht, Netherlands
With the ambiguous results of previous investigations as the starting point of our inquiry, we examine the impact of the transition to parenthood on people´s feelings of well-being. We extend on previous work in 3 different ways; we incorporate multiple indicators of well-being, we take the influence of changes in the marital and occupational domain into account and we examine whether differences in childbearing intentions explain differences in the way becoming as parent affects well-being. We make use of fixed effect panel data models to assess whether making the transition to parenthood affects well-being. Our results show that the impact of entering parenthood is weaker than we had expected. Many initial effects of the transition to parenthood were attributable to related changes in the occupational and marital domain. Furthermore, childbearing intentions had little explanatory power, and when it had, it only concerns daily mood measures of well-being. More importantly, the direction of the impact of childbearing intentions is in contrast with our initial expectations. People with short-term childbearing intentions experience a weaker, rather than a stronger, positive effect of becoming a parent on their feelings of well-being. Theoretical and societal implications of our findings are discussed. Our analyses are based on data from both waves of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (NKPS), a nationally representative panel study, conducted between 2002 and 2007, from which we selected 344 female and 260 male respondents who were continuously partnered between both waves.