Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Happiness is Childless

Here's an article saying what I've been saying for three years now: No Joy and No Fun.
This New York Magazine item inquires into the link between having children and happiness. Most of us live by the dogma that having children is a source of happiness; I have been quoted saying that while there is good to take out of the parenthood experience, parenthood is generally a rather shitty experience (literally). As I have been known to say, parenthood is like an ongoing climb of the Everest: you may be proud of your achievement at the end, but the climb itself is a pain in the ass; and it goes on and on, essentially for the rest of your life, so there really is no end.

Here are some key quotes from the article to entice you to have your own children (emphasis by yours truly):
Yet a wide variety of academic research shows that parents are not happier than their childless peers, and in many cases are less so.

...a 2004 study by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize–winning behavioral economist... found that child care ranked sixteenth in pleasurability out of nineteen activities... This result also shows up regularly in relationship research, with children invariably reducing marital satisfaction.

The economist Andrew Oswald, who’s compared tens of thousands of Britons with children to those without, is at least inclined to view his data in a more positive light: “The broad message is not that children make you less happy; it’s just that children don’t make you more happy.” That is, he tells me, unless you have more than one. “Then the studies show a more negative impact.” As a rule, most studies show that mothers are less happy than fathers, that single parents are less happy still, that babies and toddlers are the hardest, and that each successive child produces diminishing returns. But some of the studies are grimmer than others. Robin Simon, a sociologist at Wake Forest University, says parents are more depressed than nonparents no matter what their circumstances—whether they’re single or married, whether they have one child or four.
The defense rests. Literally.

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