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Keywords:

  • childlessness;
  • life course;
  • parenthood;
  • well-being

This article reviews recent research (1999–2009) on the effects of parenthood on well-being. We use a life course framework to consider how parenting and childlessness influence well-being throughout the adult life course. We place particular emphasis on social contexts and how the impact of parenthood on well-being depends on marital status, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. We also consider how recent demographic shifts lead to new family arrangements that have implications for parenthood and well-being. These include stepparenting, parenting of grandchildren, and childlessness across the life course.