Not kidding: childless couples happier

June 29, 2016

(HealthDay)—Parents in the United States are not quite as happy as their childless peers, a new report reveals.

The analysis of 22 industrialized found that the largest " gap" between those who have kids and those who don't can be found in America.

That's thanks to the dearth of workplace policies enabling employees of U.S. companies to have a more flexible schedule or take paid time off for illness, vacations or the birth of a child, the researchers said.

"The United States, without any standard paid leave available to mothers or —or any standard vacation or to support raising a dependent child—falls strikingly behind all the other countries we examined in terms of providing for parents' happiness and overall well-being," said researcher Matthew Andersson. He is an assistant professor of sociology at Baylor University, in Waco, Texas.

For the report, researchers from Baylor, the University of Texas at Austin and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., compared data from the United States, European countries, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.

The research revealed that countries with government-mandated paid leave policies have a smaller "happiness gap" between parents and couples who don't have kids.

"In fact, in those places [with leave policies], parents might be slightly happier," Andersson said in a Baylor news release.

After considering each country's economy and fertility rate and testing theories that could take a toll on parents' happiness—such as unexpected births or large families—the researchers found these variables were insignificant.

"Another striking finding was that giving money to parents in child allowances or monthly payments had less effect on parental happiness than giving them the tools such as flexible work time," the researchers said in the report.

The researchers said programs like subsidized child care actually improve the happiness of society as a whole, "with an extra happiness bonus for parents of minor children."

The findings were published June 22 in the American Journal of Sociology.

Explore further: Does having children make us any happier?

More information: The U.S. Department of Labor provides more information on the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Related Stories

Does having children make us any happier?

October 29, 2014
The birth of a first and a second child briefly increases the level of their parents' happiness, but a third does not, according to new research from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Western ...

Parents inclined to misjudge child happiness based on personal feelings

July 31, 2015
Parents' estimations of their children's happiness differ significantly from the child's own assessment of their feelings, a study has shown.

Can putting your child before yourself make you a happier person?

October 31, 2013
While popular media often depicts highly-involved parents negatively as "helicopter parents" or "tiger moms, how does placing one's children at the center of family life really affect parental well-being? New research published ...

How do your parenting methods affect your child's future?

June 17, 2016
A research group led by NISHIMURA Kazuo (Project Professor at the Kobe University Center for Social Systems Innovation) and YAGI Tadashi (Professor at the Doshisha University Faculty of Economics) have released survey results ...

Study views happiness through the lens of autism

April 7, 2016
An Australian first study is exploring what happiness looks like through the lens of autism.

Recommended for you

Link between hallucinations and dopamine not such a mystery, finds study

February 16, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) found that people with schizophrenia who experience auditory hallucinations tend to hear what they expect, ...

People find comfort listening to the same songs over and over, study finds

February 16, 2018
With the frequency that some people play their favorite song, it's a good thing vinyl records aren't used often because they might wear out.

Ketamine found to reduce bursting in brain area reducing depression quickly

February 15, 2018
A team of researchers at Zhejiang University in China has found that the drug ketamine reduces neuronal bursting in the lateral habenula (LHb) brain region, reducing symptoms of depression in rodent models. In their paper ...

What predicts the quality of children's friendships? Study shows cognition, emotion together play

February 15, 2018
Whether children think their peers' intentions are benign or hostile, and how those children experience and express their own emotions, may influence the quality of their friendships, according to a new study from the University ...

Evidence shows pets can help people with mental health problems

February 15, 2018
The study of 17 research papers by academics at the Universities of Manchester, Southampton and Liverpool, concludes that pets can help people manage their long-term mental health conditions.

Personality: Where does it come from and how does it work?

February 14, 2018
How do our personalities develop? What do we come with and what is built from our experiences? Once developed, how does personality work? These questions have been steeped in controversy for almost as long as psychology has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.