Childlessness and Psychological Well-Being in Midlife and Old Age
This entry reviews the literature on the relationship between parental status and psychological well-being in middle and old age. Psychological well-being is defined broadly, in order to capture the complexity of the costs and benefits of having children or not for well-being. This review focuses on indicators of positive and negative, cognitive, and affective well-being: life satisfaction, happiness, positive and negative effect, depression, and loneliness. Most studies define “parents” as the status of having living biological and/or adopted children and “childless” as the status of never having had such children. Yet, there is some variation and ambiguity in how studies have categorized stepchildren, adopted children, and parents who have outlived all of their children.