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Emptying the Nest and Parental Well-Being: An Analysis of National Panel Data

Lynn White and John N. Edwards
American Sociological Review
Vol. 55, No. 2 (Apr., 1990), pp. 235-242
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095629
Page Count: 8
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Emptying the Nest and Parental Well-Being: An Analysis of National Panel Data
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Abstract

Panel data from a national random sample are used to investigate the effects of children leaving home on parental well-being. The "empty nest" is associated with significant improvements in marital happiness for all parents, regardless of parent's or children's characteristics. Overall life satisfaction improves significantly only under two conditions: when there is frequent contact with nonresident children or when there were young teens in the 1983 household. For both measures of parental well-being, the positive effects of the empty nest appear to be strongest immediately after the children leave. These findings, coupled with the high levels of post-launching contact, suggest that while parents experience a modest post-launch honeymoon, the parental role remains important to parental well-being.

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