Life course changes of children and well-being of parents

Matthijs Kalmijn, Tilburg University

How do children's life course transitions affect parental well-being? We answer this question by analyzing a large longitudinal nationally representative sample of parents in the Netherlands, i.e., the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study. The parents were interviewed at two points in time about three to four years apart. Life course transitions for two randomly chosen children were recorded and parents' depression was measured in identical ways in the two waves. We test three hypotheses: (a) a child's divorce leads to a decline in parental well-being, (b) a child's union formation leads to an increase in parental well-being, and (c) a child's becoming a parent leads to an increase in parental well-being. In addition, we examine to what extent life course effects are due to changes in the content of the parent-child relationship. Our hypothesis is that the life course effects are explained by changes in the content of the parent-child relation. If effects are found after controlling for such changes, this may point to other theoretical mechanisms such as parental altruism or feelings of personal failure among parents.

Presented in Session 82: The linked lives of parents and children