Study Shows Life Satisfaction is Similar for Parents, Non-Parents

Published in PNAS, the research involved a survey of 1.8 million Americans

Released: 1/16/2014 4:00 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Stony Brook University
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Newswise — STONY BROOK, N.Y., January 16, 2014 – A scientific survey of 1.8 million Americans reveals that parents and non-parents have similar levels of life satisfaction, according to a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by Arthur Stone, PhD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University, and Angus Deaton, PhD, of Princeton University.

Most previous research has concluded that those with children have worse lives. Also, unlike previous studies, the work by Drs. Stone and Deaton, titled “Evaluative and hedonic wellbeing among those with and without children at home,” examined two components of subjective wellbeing: participants’ overall evaluation of their lives and daily emotions. Once certain life conditions such as income, education, religion, and health were factored out, the life evaluations were similar among those who are parents with children at home and those without children.

“Once life circumstances are controlled, there is no reason to expect that parents or nonparents are better off or worse than the other,” said Dr. Stone. “However, we did find that people with children experience more highs and lows emotionally – the good and the bad – as well as more daily stress than nonparents.”

The findings are based on an examination of data primarily from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a survey of Americans aged 34 to 46 who reported their daily emotional experiences and evaluated their lives from 2008 to 2012.

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