Expert reveals women are happiest when single and without kids
If you're someone who sinks into a hole of self-pity whenever you're reminded you're single, and sans kiddos, rest assured that you're probably better off.
Speaking at the Hay literary festival on Saturday, Paul Dolan - a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics - explained that traditional markers of success, such as being married and having children, didn't necessarily guarantee "happiness", especially for women.
According to Dolan "while married people are happier than other population subgroups," that only applies "when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are."
"When the spouse is not present: f—ing miserable," he continued, before adding that "the healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children."
The opposite was true for men. Dolan said that they appeared to benefit more from marriage than women, because they "calmed down" after tying the knot, meaning they took fewer risks that could affect their health.
Women's health was largely unaffected by marriage. However, middle-aged married women were interestingly at a higher risk of physical and mental ailments than those who remained single.
"You take less risks, you earn more money at work and you live a little longer," he said in regards to men, whereas women "on the other hand, [have] to put up with that, and die sooner than if [they] never married."
"We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: If you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother," he concluded.
Despite the benefits of being single and childless, the professor did concede that the societal stigma of leading such a lifestyle could lead some single women to feel unhappy;
"You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children – ‘Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’ No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner."
Dolan, who is regarded as an expert on happiness, recently published Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myths of the Perfect Life, a book which analyses data from the American Time Use Survey that polled different demographics - such as those that are single, married, separated, divorced and widowed - to compare their respective happiness levels.