The Happiness Gap

by An Ordinary Man (the novel)

Parents in the United States are less happy than childless couples by the largest margin than in any of 21 other countries included in a recent study, according to Mary Elizabeth Dallas, writing for HealthDay as reported on

According to the article, researchers from Baylor, the University of Texas at Austin and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., looked the United States, several European countries, Australia, New Zealand, and Russia in the course of the study, which was published this month in the American Journal of Sociology.

The reason why non-parents are less unhappy – and in some cases happier – than parents is ascribed to the fact that American employers typically do not provide paid leave to parents to the extent that the other countries do, if at all.

I consider it a given that, all things being equal, a couple without children will be happier than a couple with them, at least until legacy considerations begin looming their ugly head (an older couple with children might become happier than an older couple without) and believe this finding dovetails nicely with that assumption in that paid leave probably allows the parent-couples in other countries to have some time for themselves, which is critical to the maintenance of a relationship.

Children suck up many, if not all, of the available dollars and minutes, with time being the more valuable of the two.  That, in my opinion, is why the study also found 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.”  As a dad, I don’t want diaper dollars nearly as much as I want fifteen minutes alone with Mom.