Sunday, October 01, 2006

Stuff that influences subjective well-being   posted by Coffee Mug @ 10/01/2006 01:40:00 PM

I always say I don't want to have kids because I don't want that much an anchor keeping me from doing important things, and I don't want my significant other's attention drawn away. Plus, I'm giving the finger to those genes for trying to manipulate me. I was arguing with my friend about whether this was rational as far as life satisfaction. Looking for data to shore my side up I found a report (pdf) about Marriage, Children, and Subjective Well-being. I'm not sure my side got shored, but it's interesting data:
Thus we find that:
(i) age exhibits the U-shaped relationship with life satisfaction found in multivariate
research employing large samples (with life satisfaction lowest at around 44 years
for men and 42 years for women);
(ii) life satisfaction is lowest for persons from a non-English speaking background,
especially women, and especially if their English language speaking ability is poor;
(iii) the effects of education on life satisfaction, while relatively small, are negative,
possibly the result of high aspirations that have yet to be met (Clark and Oswald
(iv) levels of life satisfaction are strongly affected by the presence of health conditions
and disabilities that limit activity;
(v) persons not in employment but who are actively looking for work (that is, the
unemployed) express the highest levels of dissatisfaction, while the most satisfied
are persons who are neither employed nor looking for work (so long as this
situation is not the result of poor health);
(vi) the presence of persons other than immediate family members in the household has
predictable effects, with children enhancing satisfaction of men but reducing it for
women, and adults enhancing satisfaction of women but not men;
(vii) satisfaction levels rise with household income per head, though the magnitudes of
the estimated coefficients suggest that the effect is relatively small and that very
large increases in income are required to raise life satisfaction scores by even one
point on the scale;
(viii) homeowners tend to be more satisfied with their lives than renters;
(ix) religion tends to be an influence that enhances life satisfaction;
(x) persons who are more forward looking in their financial planning and savings
behaviour are more satisfied, though the effect is only pronounced among women;
(xi) more stable home environments when young (as represented by living with two
parents at age 14) are associated with greater levels of life satisfaction.
• Couples are, on average, much more satisfied with their lives than single persons.
• Any difference in life satisfaction between married couples and cohabiting
couples is small and confined to long-standing relationships.
• Differences in life satisfaction between formerly married persons and other single
persons are only marked for women, and even then the reported life satisfaction
scores of most of these women have almost completely recovered to the level of
other single women by the time divorce is finalized.
• Remarriage appears to benefit men more than women, with the life satisfaction of
married men rising with each subsequent marriage. In contrast, women are no
more (or less) happy in a second marriage.
• Life satisfaction declines with the number of dependent children living at home
but rises with the number of adult children who have left home.
• Dependent children who live elsewhere have a depressing effect on life
satisfaction (though large standard errors mean relatively little confidence can be
attached to this result).
• The negative effects of young dependent children are very large for single parents
but non-existent for married mothers.