Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics and author of Happy Ever After has found data that suggests that the traditional markers used to indicate a complete life such as children and a spouse do not correlate with how happy you are.
Speaking at the Hay Festival in the UK in late May, he noted that men benefited from traditional relationship roles as they “calmed down” and took less risks after getting married. While women who had no children and remained single were actually the happiest subgroup!
In the American Time Use Survey, which Dolan refers to throughout his book, the study showed that the levels of happiness of those that were married was higher than those who were single, but only when their significant other was in the same room.
Other studies have shown some financial and health benefits for both men and women when they married, which Dolan credited to higher joint incomes and a sense of emotional support.
Dolan found that middle-aged married women were at a higher risk of physical and mental disorders than those that remained single.
Considering we live in a world where being a single and childless woman is seen as a shame, this information could be encouraging to those who might feel like the married mum life isn’t for them!
The stigma surrounding child-free single women could be the reason for stress and unhappiness.
“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.”
Dolan added having children is “an amazing experience for some” however “for a lot of people it isn’t, and the idea that we can’t talk openly about why that might be is a problem”.
So, if you don’t think the mum/wife life is for you, don’t fret, because science says you’ll likely be just fine.