Cohabiting with Children: Happiness and Social Roles of Older South Africans

Margaret L. Ralston, Mississippi State University

This paper explores the relationship between gender, social roles, and happiness in a nationally representative population of older South Africans. The link between happiness and gender is still highly debated, and current empirical evidence does not reveal a clear pattern. This paper investigates how social roles, such as cohabitation with young children, may mediate the relationship between happiness and gender to provide a more complex picture of how gender influences personal wellbeing. I find that cohabiters with young children are more likely than non-cohabiters to report being happy. Moreover, I find that female cohabiters, specifically, are more likely to report happiness than female non-cohabiters. These findings speaks to the importance of intergenerational support in South African households.

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Presented in Session 138: Grandparents, Residence, Health and Happiness