Your kids can drive you crazy. They can also fill you with joy. But overall, are parents happier than other people?
In a new study, researchers examined results from a Gallup survey of 1.77 million Americans from 2008 to 2012.
Here’s what they found, according to the Los Angeles Times: Couples between the ages of 34 and 46 who have a child under the age of 15 were no happier than adults of the same age without the third presence in the house, once other factors like financial well-being were subtracted out.
However, the study also says, “Parents also experience more daily joy and more daily stress than nonparents.” It’s that drive-you-crazy-or-fill-you-with-joy thing. (I’m a nonparent by choice, and I’ve always been grateful to have avoided that roller coaster.)
But here’s the important part from the study. Says the Los Angeles Times:
When the researchers looked at similar data collected by Gallup from countries around the world, they found that in poorer countries with higher fertility rates, being a parent is associated with lower life-satisfaction. They think this is because people in these countries have less control over whether they become parents.
The researchers conclude that in the United States, and other wealthy countries, parenthood is often a deliberate choice. So, if you have children because you wanted children, you are likely just as satisfied with your life as a friend who does not have children because he or she did not want to have them.
“I choose an orange because I like oranges. You choose an apple because you like apples. There’s no reason to think that your experiences should be any better than mine,” said [study co-author Arthur] Stone. “The orange is different than the apples. Having kids is different than not having kids. It doesn’t mean that one is … intrinsically better.”
CNN says another new study indicates that couples without children are happier with their relationships than couples with children. It’s quite likely because they have more time to work on their partnerships since they’re not distracted by kids.
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