Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Annals of Happiness Studies

Angus Deaton and Arthur Stone in Vox: What Good Are Children?.

Study after study has shown that those who live with children are less satisfied with their lives than those who do not. Is there something wrong with these empirical analyses? Or is it that happiness measures are unreliable? This column argues that the results are correct but that comparisons of the wellbeing of parents and non-parents are of no help at all for people trying to decide whether to have children.

That intriguing conclusion, according to the authors, is primarily because "non-parents are not failed parents, nor are parents failed non-parents." The happiness (or lack thereof) one group cannot be compared directly with that of the other.