This paper analyzes how major life events such as marriage and childbirth affect the subjective well-being of women, especially measures of happiness and life satisfaction. The paper further explores how income, time allocation and husband’s support influences those measures. Unlike similar investigations that rely on cross-sectional data, this analysis uses panel data from the Japanese Panel Survey of Consumers (JPSC). JPSC is one of the most well-known panel data surveys in Japan. It asks women about their subjective perspectives on life satisfaction and happiness every year. Using fixed effects models allows us to control for unobserved heterogeneity yielding more reliable results than usual approaches relying on ordinary least square regressions. According to the findings from our econometric analysis, marriage and childbirth have a strong positive effect on subjective indicators of life satisfaction and happiness. These indicators are also affected by income, time allocation and husband's support but these impacts are not as large. The most effective factor to increase the married women’s level of life satisfaction is working hours. Finally, the validity of the set point theory, which predicts that happiness returns to its baseline level after major life events, cannot be confirmed from the findings of this study, especially with regard to childbirth.
Risa Hagiwara is lecturer at the faculty of economics, Meikai University. Before she was assistant professor at the faculty of business and commerce, Keio University and research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. She holds a Master degree from Meiji University. Her dissertation focuses on childbirth and female labor economics. Her research interests also cover methodological issues in econometrics, especially labor economics and demographic economics. Her latest publication is "The Impact of the Raise of Overtime Premium on Overtime Work and Annual Paid Leave: An Analysis for the Impact of the Act on the Partial Revision of the Labour Standards Act 2008 in Japan (in Japanese)" in Mita Shogaku Kenkyu, Vol.57 (4), pp.49-73 with Ryotaro FUKAHORI.