All Articles Tagged "non-parents"
With all the talk about people slowing down their baby making because of the economy and the decrease in marriage—and the inherent headaches we know come with child rearing—it was sort of assumed that childless adults are happier than parents but that’s not necessarily the case.
Two new studies presented at the Population Association of America’s annual meeting on almost 130,000 adults, 52,000 of which are parents, shows parents today may actually be happier than non-parents. And even though parental happiness levels drop some, they don’t fall to what they were before having children.
“We find no evidence that parental well-being decreases after a child is born to levels preceding the children, but we find strong evidence that well-being is elevated when people are planning and waiting for the child, and in the year when the child is born,” according to the study presented by co-author Mikko Myrskylä of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany.
So basically having a child doesn’t mean your life is over like some adults think.
Another study had a slightly different finding. Among some 120,000 adults from two nationally representative surveys between 1972-2008, parents were indeed less happy than non-parents in the decade 1985-95, but parents from 1995 to 2008 were happier. According to co-author Chris Herbst of Arizona State University, what’s happened is happiness among non-parents has declined, making parents happier in comparison. Although the evidence isn’t clear as to whether the average parent today is less happy than someone without kids, he says what’s “undeniable, however, is that parents have become relatively happier than non-parents over the past few decades.”
The age you decide to have children has some effect on the level of happiness. Those who become parents at younger ages have a downward happiness trend, while postponing parenthood results in a higher happiness level after the birth—although researchers say that doesn’t mean women should wait until very delayed ages to procreate. The number of children one has may also play a part. According to Myrskylä:
“The first child increases happiness quite a lot. The second child a little. The third not at all.”
So much for the benefits of being the baby in the family.
Are you happier as a parent than you were without kids?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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