THE ATLANTIC - We (IDEA) bring people together for love and marriage, and most end up having kids. Fertility rates are down globally. Why? Is it because couples aren't happy having kids? An article in The Atlantic this week asks "What Becoming a Parent Really Does to Your Happiness." Here's a summary of the article - Mark Brooks
Scholars argue if you want to be happy, be childless. What if the rewards of having children are different and deeper than happiness? Daniel Kahneman et al asked 900 employed women to report on activity happiness. Being with their children was less enjoyable than many other activities.
When a child is born, parents experience a decrease in happiness and a drop in marital satisfaction that doesn't usually recover until the children leave the house.
One study finds that fathers ages 26 to 62 actually get a happiness boost, while young or single parents suffer the greatest loss. There are geographic differences. A study of people in 22 countries found the extent to which children make you happy is influenced by whether your country has child-care policies such as paid parental leave. The country with the greatest happiness drop after you have children? USA!
A puzzle remains: Many people would have had happier lives and marriages had they chosen not to have kids - yet they still describe parenthood as the "best thing they've ever done." Memory distortion makes us remember peaks and forget awfulness.
Mark Brooks: I think Professor Paul Dolan put It best in his book "Happiness By Design". He resolves happiness to finding both pleasure and purpose in life. I can attest, kids give parents a huge dose of purpose.