While society often dictates that people should achieve certain milestones like marriage and having children in order to achieve happiness, this expert has recently pointed out that some of us can still be happy without following societal standards.
According to The Independent, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics (LSE), Paul Dolan, spoke at this year’s Hay Festival about the happiness levels of different demographic backgrounds.
Based on his findings, Professor Dolan concluded that “long-established, traditional symbols of success” were not always related to levels of happiness. He found that while men appear to benefit from marriage because it can “calm them down”, women are reportedly their happiest when they are not married and have no children. He was quoted as saying,
“You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer (for married men). She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and she dies sooner than if she never married.”
“The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children.”
“Married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only when their spouse is in the room when they are asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: f***ing miserable.”
He cited studies that showed some financial and health benefits for both men and women who are married, as marriage can allow people to take risks and seek medical help due to higher incomes and better emotional support.
While married men are found to gain more health benefits, married women are more or less unaffected in terms of health. However, middle-aged women do reportedly have a higher risk of developing physical and mental health conditions than single middle-aged women.
However, Professor Dolan did point out that single women can also feel unhappy due to the social stigma of not achieving traditional markers of success.
Apart from that, the professor also stated that having children can be damaging to one’s wellbeing, saying,
“It would be categorically awful if anything happened to them, but the experiences we have with children are largely miserable.”
“…for a lot of people it isn’t (an amazing experience), and the idea that we can’t talk openly about why that might be is a problem.”
What do you think about this expert’s findings? Let us know in the comments section!
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