The increasing happiness of US parents

Chris Herbst, John Ifcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-551
Number of pages23
JournalReview of Economics of the Household
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • DDB Lifestyle Survey (LSS)
  • General Social Survey (GSS)
  • Happiness
  • Life satisfaction
  • Parents
  • Subjective well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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