Single Parents, Unhappy Parents? Parenthood, Partnership, and the Cultural Normative Context

Olga Stavrova*, Detlef Fetchenhauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Although the question of whether parenthood is generally beneficial for well-being is currently being hotly debated in the social sciences, single parents are nearly unanimously assumed to be worse off than their partnered counterparts. The present research questions this finding by demonstrating that whether single parents are actually less happy than partnered parents depends on a country's cultural norms regarding childbearing practices. Using two large-scale international data sets (the European Values Study [EVS] and the European Social Survey [ESS]) covering altogether 43 countries, we show that only in collectivist countries and countries with a strong two-parent family norm did parenthood negatively affect the life satisfaction and the emotional well-being of single but not partnered (married or cohabiting) individuals. Most notably, the detrimental effect of a country's social norm of a two-parent family existed even among single parents who did not share this norm themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-149
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Volume46
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • values
  • attitudes
  • beliefs
  • parenthood
  • subjective well-being
  • partnership arrangements
  • social norms
  • children
  • life satisfaction
  • PEOPLE HAPPY
  • SELF-ESTEEM
  • MARITAL SATISFACTION
  • DESCRIPTIVE NORMS
  • SOCIAL-INFLUENCE
  • NEURAL BASIS
  • COUNTRIES
  • COHABITATION
  • HAPPINESS
  • CHILDREN

Cite this

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title = "Single Parents, Unhappy Parents? Parenthood, Partnership, and the Cultural Normative Context",
abstract = "Although the question of whether parenthood is generally beneficial for well-being is currently being hotly debated in the social sciences, single parents are nearly unanimously assumed to be worse off than their partnered counterparts. The present research questions this finding by demonstrating that whether single parents are actually less happy than partnered parents depends on a country's cultural norms regarding childbearing practices. Using two large-scale international data sets (the European Values Study [EVS] and the European Social Survey [ESS]) covering altogether 43 countries, we show that only in collectivist countries and countries with a strong two-parent family norm did parenthood negatively affect the life satisfaction and the emotional well-being of single but not partnered (married or cohabiting) individuals. Most notably, the detrimental effect of a country's social norm of a two-parent family existed even among single parents who did not share this norm themselves.",
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Single Parents, Unhappy Parents? Parenthood, Partnership, and the Cultural Normative Context. / Stavrova, Olga; Fetchenhauer, Detlef.

In: Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Vol. 46, No. 1, 01.2015, p. 134-149.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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AB - Although the question of whether parenthood is generally beneficial for well-being is currently being hotly debated in the social sciences, single parents are nearly unanimously assumed to be worse off than their partnered counterparts. The present research questions this finding by demonstrating that whether single parents are actually less happy than partnered parents depends on a country's cultural norms regarding childbearing practices. Using two large-scale international data sets (the European Values Study [EVS] and the European Social Survey [ESS]) covering altogether 43 countries, we show that only in collectivist countries and countries with a strong two-parent family norm did parenthood negatively affect the life satisfaction and the emotional well-being of single but not partnered (married or cohabiting) individuals. Most notably, the detrimental effect of a country's social norm of a two-parent family existed even among single parents who did not share this norm themselves.

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