The Psychologist has a counter-intuitive article on research that indicates, contrary to popular belief, that having children tends not to make people happier. In fact, parents reliably report that they feel less happy than in their child free days, and less happy when compared to childless couples.
Over the past few decades, social scientists like me have found consistent evidence that there is an almost zero association between having children and happiness. My analysis in the Journal of Socio-economics (Powdthavee, 2008) is a recent British example of parents and non-parents reporting the same levels of life satisfaction, on average.
But the warnings for prospective parents are even more stark than ‚Äòit‚Äôs not going to make you happier‚Äô. Using data sets from Europe and America, numerous scholars have found some evidence that, on aggregate, parents often report statistically significantly lower levels of happiness (Alesina et al., 2004), life satisfaction (Di Tella et al., 2003), marital satisfaction (Twenge et al., 2003), and mental well-being (Clark & Oswald, 2002) compared with non-parents.
It’s an interesting article as it tackles not only why having children tends not to make us happier, but also why we think it does in cultures across the world.
Link to ‘Think having children will make you happy?’.
Full disclosure: I’m an occasional columnist and unpaid associate editor for The Psychologist.