At the Hay festival on Sunday, professor of behavioural science Paul Dolan from the London School of Economics claimed that research shows that traditional markers of success, such as marriage and having children, do not correlate with happiness, reports the Guardian.
“Married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: fucking miserable.”
“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.”
For men, the benefits of marriage include becoming less risk-averse and more frugal.
“You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer.”
On the other hand, Dolan claims that women are unhappier after marriage, due to these same lifestyle changes.
“She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children.”
Dolan’s new book, Happy Ever After, cites the American Time Use Survey, which compares pleasure and misery levels in unmarried, married, divorced, separated, and widowed people.
The survey concluded that self-reported happiness levels were higher for married individuals than unmarried, but only when the spouses were present in the room. In fact, unmarried individuals reported lower levels of misery than married individuals did, when the spouses were not in the room.