The Happiness Gap

Parents in the United States are reported being less happy than their nonparent counterparts yet limited research has investigated this happiness gap. Jennifer Glass and colleagues recently sought to understand this discrepancy by reviewing surveys from 22 European and English-speaking countries. Among the countries studied, the United States had the largest happiness gap between parents and nonparents, which was significantly greater than the gaps in Australia and Great Britain. A close look at the data revealed the negative side of parenting reflected stressful social policies that did not allow parents to support both work and familial obligations. However, policies such as paid sick leave and vacation time correlated with greater ratings of happiness for all adults in a country regardless if they had children.