In a study, the basic understanding that children bring happiness in a couple's life is proved wrong especially in case of young couples. More the number of children young couples (under the age of 30) have more unhappy they become. But in case of older couples (ages between 30-39) their level of happiness increases with new addition of children.
MPIDR demographer Mikko Myrskyla and Rachel Margolis from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, conducted a study that has shown 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 has clarified 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", said Myrskyla.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 has found that the satisfaction of parents over 40 rises with the number of children comparatively strongly in former socialist states. Welfare systems in these countries are less far developed and parents depend more on direct financial support from their children.
The findings have been published in the journal Population and Development Review.