Why Some People May Be More Likely To Become Parents

Academic studies can be fascinating… and totally confusing. So we decided to strip away all of the scientific jargon and break them down for you.

The Background
Sociologist Viviana A. Zelizer once described contemporary children as “economically worthless but emotionally priceless.” That ethos might be why previous research on parenting and well-being assume that children are the cause of either joy or misery for their parents. Some studies associated parenthood with positive emotions and more meaning in life, while others found that marital satisfaction dipped and stress, depression and anxiety levels rose after a child was born.

New researchers from Texas A&M University looked at it from the opposite direction to find out: Do happy people have more children?

The Setup
Researchers analyzed two longitudinal data sets from previous studies. The first data set was from the National Survey of Lawyers’ Career Satisfaction conducted in 1984 and 1990. The 559 respondents, mostly males between the ages of 25 and 82, reported the number of children they had in 1984 and again in 1990 as well as their general life satisfaction at both time intervals.

The second set of data came from the Midlife Development in the US survey, conducted in 1995–1996 and 2004–2006. The 4,963 American men and women surveyed, who were all between the ages of 20 and 75, reported the number of children they had at both time intervals as well as their emotional and psychological well-being and general life satisfaction. Put together, these two data sets gave the researchers plenty to work with to come up with generalizable findings.

The Findings
The researchers found that happiness actually was a predictor of childbirth. Meaning: People who reported higher levels of happiness the first time they were surveyed either —> Read More