Why Are American Parents So Unhappy?

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With guest host Jane Clayson.

A new study shows American parents are much less happy than non-parents. The biggest gap among 22 nations. We’ll ask why.

American parents are more unhappy than couples without children, new studies suggest. (Amanda Roeben/Flickr)
American parents are actually more unhappy than couples without children, new studies suggest. (Amanda Roeben/Flickr)

We imagine that having children will make us happier. That may be true in some places but not here. In a study of 22 countries, American parents have the largest happiness gap compared to people without kids. But it’s not because we don’t love our kids. It has to do with US policies toward families: lack of subsidized childcare, maternity leave, work flexibility. This hour On Point, unhappy American parents and what to do about it. — Jane Clayson


Jennifer Glass, professor of sociology at the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Co-author of the new paper, "Parenthood and Happiness: Effects of Work-Family Reconciliation Policies in 22 OECD Countries.”

From The Reading List

American Journal of Sociology: Parenthood and Happiness: Effects of Work-Family Reconciliation Policies in 22 OECD Countries — "In contrast to widespread cultural beliefs that parenthood improves the health and happiness of adults, research finds that parents report lower levels of emotional well-being than non-parents in many developed countries. However, we currently do not know whether the parenthood penalty in personal happiness is smaller in economically advanced countries where public policies intended to reduce the stress associated with parenthood are more generous."

Washington Post: Many parents will say kids made them happier. They’re probably lying. -- "Ask the vast majority of American parents, and they will tell you that having kids has made them happier. The problem with this claim, as common as it is, is that research suggests it just isn’t true. People who have kids in the United States and in many countries around the world report being less happy than people who don’t have kids."

The Wall Street Journal: Soaring Child-Care Costs Squeeze Families -- "The fast-growing cost of raising children is putting extra pressure on family budgets, causing resentment to spill over in day-care parking lots and soccer fields and even into the 2016 election debate."

This program aired on July 11, 2016.


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