Just how happy can a child make you? The answer, it turns out, could depend on where you live. At least that’s according to a major study of 22 countries that compared the happiness of adults with and without children.
By using a survey to score people’s general happiness levels – rather than just asking about a parent’s satisfaction with having children – researchers from the University of Texas concluded there was a significant ‘happiness gap’ between the two groups.
Which group was better off varied between countries, with parents in nations such as the UK being more than 8 per cent less happy than non-parents on average. This gap widens to 12 per cent in the US.
However, this ‘parental happiness deficit’ doesn’t occur everywhere. Parents in some countries – particularly in those nations with low fertility rates and more generous child benefit policies, such as paid time off and childcare subsidies – are significantly happier than non-parents. Such countries include Portugal (where parents are nearly 8 per cent happier than non-parents), Hungary (4.6 per cent) and Spain (3.1 per cent).
Non-parents happier than parents
-12 per cent
-9.5 per cent
-8.3 per cent
-8 per cent
-7.8 per cent
Parents happier than non-parents
+8 per cent
+4.7 per cent
+3.1 per cent
+2 per cent
+1.9 per cent
Source: Parenthood And Happiness: Effects Of Work-Family Reconciliation Policies In 22 OECD Countries ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5222535/
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