Back in the olden days, women wouldn’t really have been given any worth if they didn’t have a husband or kids, but thankfully that’s not the case any more. In fact, a happiness expert has said women are actually better off without children or a spouse.
Because who needs a family to drag them down when you could be off being an independent woman?! Just think of all the extra money you’d save when not splashing out on nappies or school shoes.
Admittedly, it’s easier for me to imagine because I’m not married or a mother – I imagine there’s a lot of happy mums out there who would argue having kids is the best thing that’s ever happened to them.
But hey, let’s just ask the expert.
Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, was speaking at the Hay Festival in Wales on Saturday (May 25) when he said the latest evidence showed the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly when it comes to marriage and raising children.
According to The Guardian, he explained:
Married people are happier than other population sub-groups but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: fucking miserable.
We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.
Dolan went on to say that men benefit from marriage more than women do. In fact, unmarried women are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers.
The speaker continued:
[Men] take less risks, you earn more money at work and you live a little longer.
She, on the other hand, has to put up with that and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population sub-group are women who never married or had children.
The professor’s latest book, titled Happy Ever After, draws on evidence from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which compared levels of pleasure and misery in unmarried, married, divorced, separated and widowed individuals.
Results showed levels of happiness reported by those who were married was higher than the unmarried, but only when their spouse was in the room; unmarried individuals reported lower levels of misery than married individuals who were asked when their spouse was not present.
Despite the evidence to suggest unmarried, childless women are happier, Dolan pointed out that the stigma surrounding women and families might lead some single ladies to feel sad.
You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children – ‘bless, that’s a shame isn’t it, maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change’.
No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner.
Obviously it’s up to the individual to decide whether having a family would make them happy, but it’s reassuring to know that you can be just as happy – happier, even – by living life as a lone wolf.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.