Saturday, May 08, 2010

Having kids makes you unhappy, right?

Research suggests that people with children are less happy than those without. Commentator Betsy Stevenson suggests maybe we're looking at it all wrong.
When people hear this fact they immediately suspect that happiness gains from children must exist somewhere. Aren't people who are religious happier when they have kids? No. Aren't people with kids much happier later in life? No. Is this only true for those in a specific education or income group? Nope and nope.

So why do people have children if the data suggest they makes us less happy? There are two possible answers: People are making mistakes, or there is more to life than happiness.
But of course, it can't be the former, so the entire enterprise is devoted to why there must be something wrong with the metric. A little digging into Dr. Daniel Gilbert's research would have revealed the answer - we're bad at predicting, and remembering, what makes us happy. But why let a little thing like good research stand in the way of the conclusions we decided upon before ever asking the question.

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