Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Children Apparently DO Make Parents Happier, Just Later in Life

Look on the bright side:  someone else will
probably deal with messes like this after you're 40.
From the Missourian.
In spite of the common wisdom that children bring happiness to their parents, psychologists have long known that parents' happiness scores actually drop the more children they have. Now, however, Medical News Daily reports that this trend reverses after age 40. Once parents reach that age, they become happier with up to three children, and after age 50, they become happier no matter how many children they have, all independent of sex, income, or partnership status.

This information comes from a survey by the University of Pennsylvania and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR). The survey covered around 200,000 men and women in 86 countries from 1981 to 2005.

MPIDR demographer Mikko Myrskyl√§ theorizes that the change in happiness has to do with life stages of the parents, saying, "Seeing the age trend of happiness independent of sex, income, partnership status and even fertility rates shows that one has to explain it from the perspective of the stage of parents' life." The negative aspects of early childhood--like messes, troublemaking, and safety concerns--often overshadow the positive aspects, but as children mature, parents can rest easy and enjoy the benefits. Researchers also believe that the financial burdens of early childhood weigh on young parents, because countries with better-developed welfare systems show less difference in happiness between people with children and those without.

People's decision to have children is usually independent of what science shows, but in case it does affect your decision, this stuff is good to know anyway!


  1. I think it proves that there should be no hidden reasons behind deciding to have kids, besides the desire to have kids... lol

  2. I think Max should have his planck removed by a professional dentist.

  3. Yes, Julia, any other reasons would probably be selfish and disappointing!

    And Maya, I actually don't know why Max Planck, the father of quantum mechanics, has anything to do with demographic research. Apparently the Germans love him, so they just put his name on all their institutes or something.