Does Lone Motherhood Decrease Women's Happiness? Evidence from Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Anna Baranowska-Rataj, Anna Matysiak, Monika Mynarska

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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This paper contributes to the discussion on the effects of single motherhood on
happiness. We use a mixed-method approach. First, based on indepth interviews with
mothers who gave birth while single, we explore mechanisms through which children may
influence mothers' happiness. In a second step, we analyze panel survey data to quantify
this influence. Our results leave no doubt that, while raising a child outside of marriage
poses many challenges, parenthood has some positive influence on a lone mother's life.
Our qualitative evidence shows that children are a central point in an unmarried woman's
life, and that many life decisions are taken with consideration of the child's welfare,
including escaping from pathological relationships. Our quantitative evidence shows that,
although the general level of happiness among unmarried women is lower than among their
married counterparts, raising a child does not have a negative impact on their happiness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1457-1477
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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