Parents' Happiness Key to How Big Families Grow

Parents' Happiness Key to How Big Families Grow

Parents' Happiness Key to How Big Families Grow

Study finds couples are less likely to have second child if their emotional well-being declines

SOURCE: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, news release, Aug. 5, 2015

FRIDAY, Aug. 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who become less happy after the arrival of their first child are less likely to have more children, a new study finds.

The effect was especially strong among mothers and fathers who are well educated and older, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany said.

They noted that the study deals with a "taboo subject." Even though many parents experience a considerable drop in happiness after the birth of their first child, the problem is rarely discussed.

Each year, 20,000 Germans complete a life satisfaction survey. The survey revealed that the decline in happiness among some parents in the year after they have their first child is even larger than that caused by joblessness, divorce or the death of a partner.

Only about 30 percent of first-time parents didn't experience a decline in happiness, according to the study published in the August issue of Demography.

Fifty-eight percent of parents who reported a significant decline in happiness after the birth of their first child had another child within 10 years, compared with 66 percent who didn't become less happy.

The findings are independent of income, birthplace or couples' marital status, according to study author and institute director Mikko Myrskyla.

"Parents' experience with and after the first birth help predict how large the family will be eventually. Politicians concerned about low birth rates should pay attention to the well-being of new parents around and after the birth of their first child," Myrskyla said in an institute news release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the ABCs of raising safe and healthy children.

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