A surprising new study finds that new parents often spiral into unhappiness after the initial joy of getting pregnant.
A rather shocking new study finds that the joys of parenthood aren’t quite what they seem for couples looking to have a child.
Parenthood is often portrayed as an incredibly joyous time in a couple’s life, but as it turns out, having a child can actually result in a very strong negative impact on the happiness of an individual, according to a Washington Post report.
It can even be more negative than divorce, unemployment, or the death of a partner — and things don’t get much worse than any of those three.
Researchers Rachel Margolis of the University of Western Ontario and Mikko Myrskylä at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research examined 2,016 Germans who had no children when the study began, and followed them until about tow years after the birth of their first child. During that period, they asked the respondents to answer where they would rate their happiness on a scale of 0 to 10, which 0 began dissatisfied and 10 become completely content. They were asked the question, “How satisfied are you with your life, all things considered?”
The researchers asked this question rather than a specific one about childbirth because parents will often avoid saying negative things about a new child.
The researchers were trying to understand why there is a big different between how many children people say they want and how many they tend to have, with most couples in Germany saying they want two children but the average birthrate per woman is just 1.5 for the past few decades.
The study found that about 30 percent of people remained at the same state of happiness or saw an improvement, but the rest saw their happiness decline. Among that group, 37 percent reported a one-unit drop, 19 percent saw it decline two units, and 17 percent dropped three units, with an average of a 1.4 unit drop in happiness — a very severe rate, according to the report. In comparison, other major life events were much lower — divorce was just a 0.6 unit drop, unemployment 1 unit, and death of a partner 1 unit.