Exploring Education Differences in the Parental Well-Being Gap

Publication Year



Increasing evidence suggests that raising minor children is a “mixed bag” of emotions. Parents with minor children report more positive emotions, but also more negative emotions than adults without children. Little attention, however, has been paid to how this mixed bag varies by one's education level: a key socioeconomic indicator connected to family life and well-being. Drawing on data from the American Time Use Survey Subjective Well-being Module (2010, 2012, 2013; N = 17,481 respondents) and random effects models, we explored this question. Results revealed that parents of all education levels (vs. non-parents) reported greater levels of positive emotions (happiness, meaning) and less sadness, but only higher educated parents reported greater levels of negative emotions (stress, fatigue). Among lower educated women, however, we observed no parental well-being gap. These findings provide new knowledge of, and challenge several prevailing arguments about, how parenting is associated with the well-being of higher and lower socioeconomic groups.

Publication Status
In Press
Sociological Inquiry