New York Magazine has a truly excellent article on why having children tends to make people less happy. This result has come up in numerous studies but the article carefully explores this counter-intuitive finding in all the depth it deserves, reflecting on the changing culture and expectations of parenting.
The article starts with this lovely bit of academic trivia:
The idea that parents are less happy than nonparents has become so commonplace in academia that it was big news last year when the Journal of Happiness Studies published a Scottish paper declaring the opposite was true. ‚ÄúContrary to much of the literature,‚Äù said the introduction, ‚Äúour results are consistent with an effect of children on life satisfaction that is positive, large and increasing in the number of children.‚Äù Alas, the euphoria was short-lived. A few months later, the poor author discovered a coding error in his data, and the publication ran an erratum. ‚ÄúAfter correcting the problem,‚Äùit read,‚Äúthe main results of the paper no longer hold. The effect of children on the life satisfaction of married individuals is small, often negative, and never statistically significant.‚Äù
However, the article questions what it means to say someone is ‘happy’ or ‘satisfied’ with their life and explores whether these studies are genuinely measuring the rich experience of parenting.
The piece explores how cultural expectations of parenting, and indeed, childhood, have changed and what practical implications this has had for day-to-day childcare.
It is one of those rare articles that combines scientific studies with personal experiences, without confusing the two and while using each to complement the other.
In-depth, wonderfully written and worth putting time aside for.
Link to New York Magazine ‘All Joy and No Fun’