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Mapping family change and child well-being outcomes

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Scott, Mindy E.; Wilcox, Bradford W.; Ryberg, Renee & DeRose, Laurie
Publication Date: 
1 Sep 2015


Executive summary

In this section of the World Family Map report, we investigate how variations in union status and work-family arrangements are associated with men's and women's self-reported level of happiness. We document how couples with children divide market and domestic work in 32 countries; explore how the presence of children is related to how much work couples perform and how they divide it; and test the association of work-family arrangements with happiness among parents. Although happiness is more difficult to define and measure than objective, numerical indicators such as income levels, a large body of cross-national research suggests that happiness can be successfully compared across nations and used as an indicator of human thriving.

The experiences of the thousands of individuals and couples we studied yielded three key findings:

• 1 - No single model of dividing paid and domestic work between partners predominates in any region around the globe.

• 2 - Couples with children spend more hours working (across paid and domestic work) each week than couples without children, and having children is more strongly associated with dividing work along traditional gender lines in higher-income countries than in lower-income ones.

• 3 - Among parents, couples dividing labor in very different ways express mostly similar levels of happiness, although parents who have a partner with whom to divide the labor report more happiness than parents who do not have a partner.