Family status and subjective well-being: comparing Poland and Sweden

Eva Bernhardt, Stockholm University
Ewa Fratczak, Warsaw School of Economics

Individuals form unions and have children because this increases their subjective well-being. A recent study of identical twins in Denmark showed that currently being in a partnership has large positive effects on happiness. The transition to parenthood also substantially increased subjective well-being. We hypothesize that these effects are different in different cultural contexts, depending on the degree of overall family orientation in the society. For example, in a strongly family-oriented society such as Poland the effect of family status is likely to have a larger positive impact on subjective well-being than in individualistic Sweden. Our study will explore this, using similar survey data for young adults in the two countries. Preliminary analyses show, however, that currently living in a partnership has strong positive effects in both Poland and Sweden, but stronger in the latter. Having children significantly increases well-being in Sweden, while two or more children seem to have a negative effect in Poland.

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Presented in Session 139: Cultural dimensions of demographic behaviour in industrialized societies