Overall, people with children at home tended to rate their lives higher than those without kids at home. But after controlling for other variables that are linked to life satisfaction — such as income, health and level of religiousness — that difference melted away.
The study can't fully answer the question of whether parents are happier than nonparents, because it didn't distinguish empty nesters, noncustodial parents and others who have children but don't live with them, Deaton said.
Choice is key
In the modern day, having children is largely a choice, said Andrew Oswald, an economist at the University of Warwick in England who was not involved in the study.
"Choosing either can lead to happiness, and different people choose different routes in life," Oswald told LiveScience.
And what about the grandmas and busybodies who tell those planning not to have kids that they'll be so much happier once they do?
For people who don't want kids, "it may well be that yes, they would be just as happy without kids, particularly if they have things in their life that would be just as fulfilling," said Carol Graham, an economist at the Brookings Institution who was not involved in the study.
But there is one clear (if potential) benefit of rearing children: grandkids.
"There's quite a lot of evidence that grandchildren do make you happier," said Oswald, who just had a grandchild. "You can see why intuitively: Grandparents get a lot of the benefits without having to get up in the middle of the night."
Original article on LiveScience.
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