ESRI Discussion Paper Series No.295
Childbearing and Subjective Well-being in Japan: A Study on Parents in Their 20s and 30s

Michiko Ueda
Research Assistant Professor, Syracuse University, and Economic and Social Research Institute, Cabinet Office
Kentaro Kawahara
Economic and Social Research Institute Cabinet Office


This paper examines the association between parenthood and subjective well-being using survey data conducted by the Japanese Government in March 2012. We analyzed whether parenthood is associated with the level of subjective well-being of respondents aged 20-39 using an ordered logit model. Our estimation results suggest that Japanese women in the age group are much less likely to be happier when they are parents compared to when they are non-parents. We obtain the same results when their subjective well-being is measured by the level of life-satisfaction or predicted happiness in five years. In contrast, for Japanese men in the same age group, the presence of child has no association with their happiness or life-satisfaction level. In addition, we find that Japanese mothers with a full-time job report lower levels of subjective well-being compared to mothers who are not working full-time. We also find that mothers who are not satisfied with the quality and availability of childcare are more likely to report that they are unhappy compared to those who are satisfied with the existing childcare options.

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