A new study by a leading expert in happiness has revealed that unmarried and childless women are the happiest and are more likely to live longer.
Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, said the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly marriage and raising children. He said that married people only say they’re happy when their spouse is in the room. But when they’re not, they say they’re miserable.
He further shared that men benefited from marriage because they “calmed down, took fewer risks, earned more money at work, and lived a little longer.” Their health even benefited from marriage. Women’s health, on the other hand, remained mostly unaffected, though middle-aged married women are at higher risk of physical and mental conditions than their single counterparts. They are also likely to die earlier.
“The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children,” Dolan said.
While other studies have measured some financial and health benefits in being married, for both men and women on average, Dolan says those could be attributed to higher incomes and emotional support, which allow married people to take risks and seek medical help.
Despite the benefits of a single, childless lifestyle for women, Dolan said that the existing narrative that marriage and children were signs of success meant that the stigma could lead some single women to feel unhappy.