In the study, more than 70% of parents reported a decrease in happiness after the birth of their first child.
Rachel Margolis, University of Western Ontario in Canada, and Mikko Myrskylä the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, published their findings in the journal Demographics .
The aim of the study was to gain a better understanding of why some parents fail to have a child.
According to the latest data from the Census Bureau United States, the number of families with one child in the US It has increased significantly in recent years. Today, more than 15 million American families with children have only one child.
The researchers note that there are a number of important social and demographic factors that may play a role in the decision of parents to have more than one child. Previous studies have shown that women are increasingly driven by race, for example, it means that many are more focused on work to have children.
But Margolis and Myrskylä say there is no quantitative studies have investigated how the experience of having a first child impacts the desire for more.
“The experience of the transition to parenthood inform decisions about whether new parents have another child,” they explain. “If you have a first child is a positive experience overall, or more positive than expected, then people should be more likely to have another. However, if the transition to parenthood is very hard or harder than expected, then people can choose to stay in parity one. ”
To investigate their theory, the team evaluated data from 1984-2010 of 2,301 German parents who were part of the German Socio-Economic Study Group.
Each year of study requires both mothers and parents to complete a questionnaire in which they rated their happiness on a scale of 0-10, with 10 representing the maximum welfare. In addition, they were asked parents about other factors of life, including childbirth, relationships and employment.
The researchers used the information to assess the happiness of participants 2 years before the birth of her first child and happiness during the transition to parenthood – up to 1 year after birth.
Over 70% of parents became more unhappy after having her first child
They found that during the transition to parenthood, parents reported an average drop of 1.4 points on the scale of happiness, compared with born 2 years before his first child.
Overall, more than 70% of the parents experienced a decline in well-being after the birth of her first child, with more than a third of experiencing a minimal drop of 2 points on the scale of happiness.
In addition, researchers found that parents who experienced a decrease in welfare after their first child were less likely to have more children; 58% of parents who became unhappy went on to have a second child within 10 years, compared with 66% of parents whose happiness was not reduced.
The parents of 30 and older age and those who stayed in education for at least 12 years were more likely to be influenced by their levels of happiness when it came to deciding whether to have more children, according to the results.
Myrskylä says this may be because older parents and those with better education are better in implementing their recent experiences of fertility decisions. “It could also be that it is more difficult for these parents to reconcile work and family, since it is likely to be more competitive in professional environments,” he adds.
The researchers say their findings held even taking into account possible confounding factors such as income, marital status and place of birth of parents.
Commenting on the significance of these findings, Margolis says:
“Now we know that the decline of happiness is important, if not essential, to determine if couples go on to have another child. The fall of happiness that occurs during the transition to parenthood it is quantitatively important and has much more weight than other major changes in the relationship, work and health of a couple when choosing to have more children is determined. ”
The study is subject to certain limitations. For example, researchers said they were unable to determine the underlying mechanisms that lead to the difficulties of parents during the transition to parenthood.
“These factors, such as ease of the birth experience, level of exhaustion during the first year, and the relationship stress , are not available in our survey and data are more suitable for qualitative work [ …] “, added. “Therefore, this research should be read in conjunction with qualitative work.”
However, on the basis of their findings, the team says that policy makers in developed countries who have concerns about low fertility should consider how welfare parents for the first time impacts future fertility.
Earlier this month, Medical News Today reported on a study published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health where researchers found men who become parents before 25 years may be in increased risk of death in middle age .