Economic Regression and Change of Life Satisfaction of Families with Children in 18 Countries

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:50 AM
Room: Booth 53
Oral Presentation
Mare AINSAAR , Institute of Sociology and Social Policy, Tartu, Estonia
Many countries faced economic regression in 2009-2010. The paper analyses how life satisfaction (LF) of people living with children was shaped by these changes and how family policies reacted to economic changes in 2006-2010. We start with a hypothesis that more comprehensive family policy will diminish the economic vulnerability of families with children. The paper analyses individual and country level components of LF of parents with children in 18 countries and change of these components during social changes. We are interested in how and why LF of parents with children deviates from the rest of the population and how why it changed. It is assumed that the total LF is influenced by individual resources and the environment where individual live. From individual level characteristics we concentrate on analyses of economic coping, health, personal relations, trust of democracy. The role of the government is measured with different family policy incentives and policy rhetoric, and social environment described with level of wealth and social norms about children. It is assumed that stronger support from the society raise LF of families with children.

Data of 18 European countries, facing clear economic recession and participating in European Social Survey are used for analyses. Individual level data are combined with official statistics about family policy, family norm, and general level of wealth during 2006-2011.

Results demonstrate that parenting is generally associated with higher LF in many countries. Time trend shows decline of LF of parents in 2008/2009 and recovery during 2010/11, however essential country differences can be observed. Although individual differences are the most important factors of fluctuation of LF, their share seems to diminish and the role of country environments increase during observed period. We also found, that strong social norm for children does not make families happy. For family policy measures we find different results.