You would probably guess this, but in case you need confirmation. Women who don't have children and are unmarried are the happiest. How many times have you looked at your single friend and been like, "she looks so happy?" According to science, she is. Having the freedom to live their lives for themselves and do whatever they want will do that. And here's the other thing. Not only are these women happier, they tend to live longer than their peers who are married and have children.
At the recent Hay Festival, Paul Dolan, professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics presented evidence to prove this point. Dolan explains that the traditional measures of success have no correlation with happiness. This is especially true when it comes to marriage and children.
“Married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are," Dolan explains. He adds that when the spouse leaves the room, they'll admit to being "miserable."
One of the valid points Dolan makes is that marriage is more beneficial to men. (Surprise, surprise) He says this is because marriage "calmed down" men. But in doing so, it does a disservice to women. Married women tend to die sooner than unmarried women for this reason. "The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children,” Dolan claims.
All of this makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Unmarried, child-free women don't have the same day to day stress. They're not having to keep track of a spouse or children. And they can come and go as they please. Not being held to others' needs gives them freedom. Sure, they still have responsibilities, but not having to be a gatekeeper for others gives them space to live as they want.
But in spite of the evidence to the contrary, Dolan says current beliefs could be misleading. The current societal narrative is that marriage and children make women happy. Because of this, single child-free women could be unhappy. What they don't realize is, they're the ones with the best lives.
“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 says.
Hopefully, this evidence will spread and begin to change the narrative.
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