Does Juggling Work and Family Influence Happiness?

19 Oct 2015

The recently-released World Family Map 2015, explores different work-family arrangements and their impact on family well-being.

The release of the 2015 World Family Map Report marks STI’s third year sponsoring the project, which stemmed from the 2012 Family Foundation Experts Meeting, also sponsored by STI and led by University of Virginia Sociologist Brad Wilcox.

The World Family Map Project monitors the global health of the family by tracking 16 indicators of family structure, family socioeconomics, family processes, and family culture in multiple countries around the world. Each annual report of the project shares the latest data on these indicators, as well as an original essay focusing on one important aspect of contemporary family life. In both the indicators and the essay, we share the highest-quality data available for countries that are representative of each region of the world. Scholars around the globe serve as advisors and analysts for the project, stimulating a large community of researchers to gather new data and conduct innovative studies on families and children.

This third edition of the World Family Map, which the Social Trends Institute sponsored with Child Trends, and a range of international educational and nongovernmental institutions, provides updated indicators of family well-being worldwide. The World Family Map indicators show that there are distinct family patterns across regions, and also variation within regions. Families are changing around the world. Marriage is becoming less common. Severe economic hardships, including extreme poverty and undernutrition, are diminishing, yet remain real struggles for a significant minority of the world’s population. There are many other patterns to discover in the report. Each country and region has unique strengths to offer as an example for others to follow, and each also has areas of life where families face ongoing challenges

This year’s essay, titled “No One Best Way: Work, Family and Happiness the World Over, examines how couples around the globe split up work and family responsibilities. International data reveal there is no one dominant pattern for dividing paid and domestic work in any world region. Moreover, no particular approach to the division of labor is consistently linked to higher levels of happiness among parents in most parts of the world, although parents who have a partner with whom to divide the labor report more happiness than parents who do not have a partner.

The first two editions of the project focused on family living arrangements and education outcomes, and on union stability and early childhood health in developing countries, respectively.

The World Family Map 2015 is now available for download in English. The Spanish version will be available in late October on the website, when printed copies can be ordered as well.

Some of this latest report’s media coverage:

The Wall Street Journal: “In Two-Career Marriages, Women Still Do More of the Work at Home,” September 30, 2015
The Atlantic: “Why Being a Poor Kid in America Is Particularly Awful,” September 24, 2015
Mercator Net (Australia): “Domestic happiness: it’s not all about the division of labour,” September 24, 2015
America’s Promise Alliance: “U.S. Lags Middle- and High-Income Countries in Investments in Families Despite High Child Poverty Rate,” September 21, 2015