LOS ANGELES, CA - Parents are notorious for trying to nudge their childless friends into having babies. Alright parents, answer truthfully- but does it make you happier? Not if you're living in the United States. New research soon to be published in the American Journal of Sociology looks at how parents and non-parents from 22 different countries rate their own happiness.
American parents came in dead last, rating themselves 12% unhappier than those who are childless. In only 8 of the countries did parents describe themselves as being happier. So what's the deal? Parenting is stressful everywhere- so researchers say it comes down to our lack of social policies that support parents.
They were astonished to find that the negative effects of parenthood were explained almost entirely by the high cost of childcare and the low number of paid sick and vacation policies, compared with other countries.
The good news is, that means there are concrete solutions to closing this happiness gap. We can subsidize childcare and expand access to paid vacation and sick leave. These changes are already happening- slowly but surely- at the state and city level. California recently boosted family leave benefits and Chicago and San Diego now have paid sick leave. The rest of the country needs to catch up. Our happiness depends on it.