A new study conducted by researchers from Michigan State University found that not becoming a parent may not impact consumers’ life satisfaction.
The team learned that one-quarter of adults in Michigan do not want to have children, and this group experienced similar levels of happiness and satisfaction as those who had children.
“Most studies haven’t asked the questions necessary to distinguish ‘child-free’ individuals -- those who choose not to have children -- from other types of nonparents,” said researcher Jennifer Watling Neal. “Non-parents can also include the ‘not-yet-parents’ who are planning to have kids, and ‘childless’ people who couldn’t have kids due to infertility or circumstance.”
How do children impact happiness?
For the study, the researchers wanted to identify the difference between adults that didn’t plan on having children versus those who were considered nonparents. The team then analyzed responses from more than 1,000 adults who participated in the Michigan State University State of the State Survey. The group answered questions about their personalities, general life satisfaction, and political ideology.
The researchers were surprised to learn that one-quarter of the participants identified as child-free and didn’t have intentions of having children. However, this choice didn’t affect their overall happiness or life satisfaction.
“After controlling for demographic characteristics, we found no difference in life satisfaction and limited differences in personality traits between child-free individuals and parents, not-yet parents, or childless individuals,” said researcher Zachary Neal.
In terms of personality, the study showed that parents and nonparents weren’t too different; however, the researchers learned that there was a divide between the groups. The study found that parents didn’t have great attitudes about those without kids, whereas nonparents were much kinder to each other.
Another big difference was in political leanings. The majority of nonparents reported having more liberal preferences than participants with kids. The researchers believe that this particular finding can have important implications in future elections.