Married mothers and fathers are the happiest category of individuals, according to new research from the Institute for Family Studies (IFS).
The results run counter to the often prevailing cultural narrative that marriage and parenthood are not fulfilling, particularly for women.
Based on data from the US 2022 General Social Survey, IFS scholars Brad Wilcox and Wendy Wang show that a combination of marriage and parenthood is linked to the biggest happiness dividends for women.
Among married women with children between the ages of 18 and 55, 40% reported they are “very happy,” compared to 25% of married childless women and just 22% of unmarried childless women.
Only 17% of unmarried mothers are very happy, making them the least happy women.
Similarly, 35% of married men ages 18-55 who are fathers report being “very happy,” followed by 30% of married men who do not have children.
Unmarried childless men, and especially unmarried fathers, are the least happy. Less than 15% of these men say they are “very happy.”