The number of children that makes parents happiest

Posted on October 31, 2014

First and second children provide parents a boost in happiness up to a year before they are born but the third does not, new research finds. The increase in happiness lasts around one year from birth, after which some parents’ happiness returns to its usual pre-baby levels.

The research, published in the journal Demography, found that it’s the first child that provides the greatest boost in happiness, while the increase from the second is about half the size.

The arrival of a third child is not associated with an increase in the parents’ happiness, but this is not to suggest they are any less loved than their older siblings. Instead, this may reflect that the experience of parenthood is less novel and exciting by the time the third child is born or that a larger family puts extra pressure on the parents’ resources. Also, the likelihood of a pregnancy being unplanned may increase with the number of children a woman already has — and this brings its own stresses.

Parents who are highly educated or have their first children between the ages of 35 and 49 show the strongest gains in happiness around the birth of their children. For these parents, happiness gained when they became parents was sustained over the long-term. The researchers found that teenagers who had children showed no happiness boost, indeed they tended to become less happy over time.

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Source material from PSY Blog


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