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Older parents are happier with more children
Date:3/7/2011

This release is available in German.

"Children may be a long-term investment in happiness," says MPIDR demographer Mikko Myrskyl. Together with Rachel Margolis from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, USA, he published the new study in the latest issue of the journal "Population and Development Review". It shows a global trend: while for parents under 30 the level of happiness decreases with the first and each additional child, mothers and fathers aged 30 to 39 feel as happy as childless peers until they have four children or more. From age 40 onwards parents are even more content than childless couples are unless they have more then three children. Mothers and fathers over 50 are generally happier than their childless peers, no matter how numerous their offspring.

With a sound data basis, this study clarifies for the first time the discrepancy between the widespread belief that children bring happiness and the fact that most research finds either a negative or no significant relationship between parenthood and well being. "Seeing the age trend of happiness independent of sex, income, partnership status and even fertility rates shows that one has to explain it from the perspective of the stage of parents life", says Mikko Myrskyl who at the MPIDR is heading the Max Planck Research Group "Lifecourse Dynamics and Demographic Change".

In the early stages of parenting, positive aspects of having children are overshadowed by negative experiences such as lack of sleep, concerns about the child's well being, and financial strains. The older parents get, the less they feel such pressure caused by their offspring as the child grows up and becomes more independent. When children reach adulthood their parents, who are then between 40 and 60 years old, can benefit from them financially and emotionally. Consistently, the study finds that th
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Contact: Mikko Myrskyl
myrskyla@demogr.mpg.de
49-381-208-1118
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert

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