Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Jennifer March Augustine


Prior research has examined the emotional costs and benefits associated with parenting. In general, this body of literature finds that parents experience lower levels of subjective well-being compared to non-parents—a phenomenon referred to as the parental well-being gap. There is evidence that this parental well-being gap has narrowed or disappeared altogether in more recent years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to parents that may have resulted in a widening or reopening of this gap once again. This project aims to test this possibility by drawing on data from The General Social Survey that capture the survey year prior to (2018) and after (2021) the pandemic. My analyses incorporate an array of subjective well-being measures that assess the parental well-being gap in general (general happiness) and in two key contexts—marital relationships (marital satisfaction) and work (job satisfaction). The findings suggest that the parental well-being gap was larger in 2018 than 2021. While the pandemic was historically catastrophic, it may have provided parents with more positive experiences that non-parents. This study underscores the idea that the costs and benefits of parenting may balance each other out and can vary across contexts.


© 2023, Morgan Renee Koziol

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