A new study, due to be published in the America Journal of Sociology in September, has found that your degree of happiness as a parent can be attributed to one very interesting factor; the country in which you live.
Yep, using data from over 22 countries researchers found that parents in the United States of America experienced a larger ‘gap’ in their reported level of happiness than their non-parent counterparts living in the same country. The gap noted was significantly larger than other Western countries like the United Kingdom and Australia, both of which still still experienced a noticeable gap between those with, and those without kids.
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However, in some western countries like Norway, Finland, Sweden, Hungary and Russia parents were actually found to be happier than non-parents. There was no happiness gap reported whatsoever.
The idea of a happiness gap is nothing new. Research has shown time after time that having children does not make a person happier. It’s actually often the opposite. The ‘happiness gap’ is a term coined by researchers which is used to describe the gap that exists between parents and non-parents. Studies indicate that those with children often pay what’s called a ‘happiness penalty’ when they step into their new role of mum or dad.
So what’s the deal? Well, it would be easy to assume that the happiness gap is a result of things like parental relationship, income, living conditions, schooling or even whether or not the pregnancy was planned. But that’s not the case according to this study.
Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas, Jennifer Glass, says that the key to parental happiness was found to be directly linked to the country's family friendly policies. She says "The negative effects of parenthood on happiness were entirely explained by the presence or absence of social policies allowing parents to better combine paid work with family obligations. And this was true for both mothers and fathers. Countries with better family policy ‘packages’ had no happiness gap between parents and non-parents,”