Does having a child make one happier?
A research paper titled “The Origin of Happiness” was recently published. Professor Andrew Clark and Professor Richard Layard compared data from the UK, US, Germany and Australia.
They found that the “positive glow of parenthood” only lasted for around 12 months, after which there was no improvement in the “subjective well-being” of the parents. The researchers compared people’s happiness before and after childbirth. Life satisfaction was raised by 2.5% after child birth. Within 2 years, the joy was reduced to 0. The professors concluded that “having young children brings some satisfaction but on average not a lot (with huge upsides being matched by significant downsides).
On the other hand, the research found that “positive effect from having a partner” does not disappear over time.
Finally, the researchers followed respondents 4 years prior to the loss of their partner to 4 years after. They found that people tend to bounce back the loss of a partner (from death or separation) rapidly.
See: Colin Fernandez, Having children DOESN’T make you happy: Becoming a parent only causes brief joy that ‘wears off after a year’, The Daily Mail, 12 December 2016
The study involved respondents from developed, western nations. I am not sure if the same results would apply to Singaporean parents. From my experience as a divorce lawyer in Singapore, custody care and control of the minor child are amongst the issues most commonly contested by divorcing parents. Some parents would even give up assets, if they are able to have sole custody care and control of the minor child.
I am sure that parenthood brings joy to many. To many divorcing parents, being able to watch their child grow up means the world to them. This is the reason the welfare of a minor child is of paramount importance.
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