Science Says Having Kids Won’t Make You a Happier Person
Ah, parenting — the greatest joy a human being can experience, right? While we’re sure many would answer with a resounding, “YES!,” (despite findings that it’s more stressful for moms than dads), a recent and soon-to-be-published study titled “The Origins of Happiness” of parents in the UK, the United States, Germany and Australia is claiming evidence to the contrary.
Presented by Paris School of Economics Professor Andrew Clark at a London conference yesterday, the study concluded that while being part of a partnership has a decidedly positive impact on a person (“We found a positive effect from having a partner that doesn’t go away over time,”) having children did not increase subjective well-being — at least after a while.
While it is unclear exactly how the researchers measured happiness levels, the study analyzes that very metric in mothers and fathers both before and after the couples had children to determine if their happiness did, in fact, increase.
The researchers say that while they saw an immediate increase in “life satisfaction” early on (a .25 spike on a scale of 1-10), adaptability begins to kick in around two years, therefore dropping happiness down to pre-baby levels.
“’In all three countries (the US was excluded from this particular metric), there is excitement as the child approaches, joy when the child arrives and complete adaptation within two years,” Andrew said, leading him and his team to conclude that “having young children brings some satisfaction, but not a lot,” and that “having [kids] is a good idea for up to 12 months.” Sheesh! Way harsh, Tai, no?
Andrew does readily concede, however, that these levels were only analyzed for up to four years of the child’s life, and may very well yet yield further happiness brought about by children down the line over a more long-term study. “What we don’t have evidence [of]…is over 20-30 or 40 years, when we get old and need taking care of,” he said. “We hope this will become positive at some point.”
An alternate study published in April 2016 by the same co-author might also hold some clues: Highlights of his findings suggest that “the average relationship between children and happiness differs sharply across countries and populations,” that the relationship changes from a negative to a positive one for individuals making 20K+ and that becoming a parent over 30 may also show increased happiness levels when compared to those who become parents younger than this.
Hmm. It sounds like while having kids isn’t a decision you should make simply to fill a void or internal unhappiness (duh), as it likely won’t fix what ails you, the experience varies greatly depending on your age, status and personal relationships.
As he puts it, “To a degree, people who want children more get more children, just as people who like classical music are more likely to listen to it. If we compare people with and without children we may be just comparing people with different tastes.”
Either way, some interesting food for thought!
What do you make of Andrew Clark’s study? Share with us @BritandCo.
(h/t Daily Mail, photos via Getty)
Fall is right around the corner, and we're getting amped up for our next session of Selfmade, Brit + Co's 10-week interactive startup school. Designed to help you create a new business or grow your existing one, this course is personally led by Brit + Co founder Brit Morin and co-founder Anjelika Temple, and supported by more than a dozen of the top female entrepreneurs, creatives, and investors in the country. Students receive personalized coaching on everything from how to get out of your comfort zone to how to scale your business, and everything in between. And now, thanks to Office Depot, even more of you can join the course!
For the fall session, we're thrilled to team up with Office Depot to grant 200 FREE scholarship seats to the course. Scholarships are open to US residents, focusing on women of color, women from underserved and underrepresented communities, and women in need of support to help them trail-blaze. After all, we firmly believe that your support system is a huge part of how you achieve greatness, and we are here to cheer all of you on.
To nominate yourself or someone you know for a scholarship, head to our nomination form right here. The deadline for scholarship nominations is September 27th — it's time to take the leap!
Beyond the scholarship, Office Depot is all about helping you accomplish more. Whether it be the start phase, growth phase or keep businesses going phase, Office Depot offers a full suite of business solutions, including services and products, to help you work from anywhere, organize and save time and help build your brand.
So what are you waiting for? Take a chance on yourself and get yourself one step closer to truly being selfmade. Learn more about the Selfmade program, apply for a scholarship and prepare to be inspired :)