Having children requires a lot of energy and investment. But even in countries where contraceptives are readily available and widespread, where childbearing has become optional and financially expensive, and where there are significant compromises in terms of careers and other life goals, childbearing is not "out of fashion".
Researchers Letizia Mencarini, Daniele Vignoli, Tugba Zeydanli and Jungho Kim recently tested the hypothesis that higher life satisfaction promotes reproductive behaviour. They argue that people who are satisfied with their overall life feel better prepared to begin raising children.
If life satisfaction promotes fertility, then this positive correlation should be observed in today's low-fertility societies. The hypothesis is tested by using general life satisfaction as a determinant of fertility behavior, using longitudinal data available for developed and low fertility countries: Australia, Germany, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The authors found that a higher level of subjective wellbeing is indeed associated with a higher probability of having children in all countries considered. In fact, it remains an important life experience for most adults: People with a satisfactory life tend to be the ones who try to have children.
So does life satisfaction influence the decision to have children? This extensive comparative analysis of longitudinal data suggests that it does.