The introduction of the two-child family planning policy in China calls for a study of the response of mothers’ subjective well-being after the birth of a second child. Generally focusing on Western countries, previous studies suggested that a series of factors could influence the response, but insufficient attention has been paid to the relative importance of these factors so far. Based on survey data from mothers of two children in the Xi’an metropolitan area, Shaanxi Province, China, our study indicates that the important factors associated with mothers’ life satisfaction after having a second child were, in general, common to Western countries and China. There were also two factors somewhat unique to China: positive adjustment (i.e., becoming happier) by firstborn children (average age, 6 years old) following a sibling’s birth, predicted enhanced life satisfaction for mothers; additionally, mothers who had both a son and a daughter reported the highest increase in life satisfaction, while mothers who had two sons reported the lowest increase. Socioenvironmental constraints (i.e., parenting pressure and work–family conflict) had a larger association with mothers’ life satisfaction than individual ideational factors (e.g., family orientation and fertility desire). These findings suggest that fertility-friendly policies and convenient family intervention institutions are needed to alleviate potential undesirable consequences and improve maternal life quality following a second childbirth so that the two-child policy can be a success.
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