Washington, Jan 14: Parents with or without children are just two sides of the same coin: non-parents are not ‘failed’ parents and parents are not ‘failed’ non-parents, says a study.
According to researchers, factors such as higher educational attainment, higher income, better health and religiosity enhance life satisfaction and they found that parents and non-parents have similar levels of life satisfaction.
“It is simply a mistake to presume that people with children have better lives,” said Angus Deaton, the Dwight D. Eisenhower professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University.
“Some people like oranges, and some like apples, and we do not think that orange eaters should have better or worse lives than apple eaters,” he added.
However, adults with children at home experience more emotional highs and lows than those without children at home, said the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers examined data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index – a survey of 1.8 million Americans who evaluated their lives and reported daily emotional experiences between 2008 and 2012.
The researchers focused on the 34-46 age group.
They found that all emotions – happiness, smile, enjoyment, worry, stress and anger – were markedly higher among those who have children at home.
“Life evaluation is not the same as experienced emotions, such as happiness, enjoyment, sadness, worry or stress,” said Deaton.
“The results show that, no matter what else is taken into account, parents experience more of all of these than non-parents. There are good days and bad, ups and downs,” he added.
For countries like India, where there is strong social pressure to become parents, Deaton and Stone say their argument does not apply.
In such countries, people may have children even when it does not increase their own life evaluation, though it may increase that of their parents or communities, said the study.
“The evidence for those countries does indeed show that parents have lower life evaluations, on average,” the study said.