But, Oster finds, who you are before you have kids heavily influences the likelihood that your marital bliss will drop off a steep happiness cliff.
“In general, people tell you that you will not be happy with your marriage after you have kids,” she said. “That’s on average true — marital satisfaction declines — but those declines are larger in some groups and in some families than others.”
In particular, people who planned their pregnancies, those with more financial resources and social support, and couples that were happier pre-children tend to see smaller and shorter declines in their happiness post-baby. “It correlates in the way you might expect with differences in socioeconomic status,” Oster said. “Part of it is that there are a lot of stresses — financial and time — that come with having a kid, and those are more acute if you don’t have other resources.”