Does having children make you happy?

Research has found that having children doesn’t improve your happiness levels, but having a partner does

A new study, titled The Origin of Happiness, by Professor Andrew Clark and Professor Richard Layard, et. al., found becoming a parent only causes brief joy that wears off after a year, following which there is no improvement in ‘subjective wellbeing’. Nevertheless, they also found that having a partner produces a long-lasting positive effect that doesn’t dwindle over time.

The wide-ranging study of happiness analysed data from four countries – the UK, US, Germany and Australia. Overall, having a child raised life satisfaction by 0.25 points for British parents when rated on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the most satisfied. However, within two years, this joy fades to zero.

Presented at a conference in London, Professor Clarke of the Paris School of Economics, commented; “We could not find systematically large effects [on well-being] from children. Is having a family good for you in the long run? Children are a great idea; thinking about having children is a good idea; having them is a good idea […], up to 12 months. When it comes to having children parents quickly adapt and it does not increase their subjective wellbeing. The study however only looked at the first four years, so further studies might find benefits later in life – for when we’re old and need taking care of.”

Unlike having a spouse or a partner, having a child is difficult to measure. The authors add; “A sensible conclusion is that having young children brings some satisfaction but on average not a lot (with huge upsides being matched by significant downsides).”

What do you think? Does having children make you happy?