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Parenthood Worse Than Divorce, Unemployment

Kids, science tells us, do not make you happy. That's the better news. The worse news is that children, especially babies, actually rob you of what happiness you did have.

On average, of course, and especially if you're German.

These are the conclusions in a study by researchers Rachel Margolis and Mikko Myrskylä that has been published recently in Demography. What makes them so sure of the forlornness of moms and dads? The pair found 2,016 childless Germans and tested their level of happiness. They followed the subjects through the year up through and two years after their birth of their first child. Subjects rated their happiness annually from 0 (completely dissatisfied) to 10 (completely satisfied) in response to the question, "How satisfied are you with your life, all things considered?"

The researchers, the Washington Post reports, were careful not to specifically ask about how the parents felt about their kid or whether their kids made them happy—since, what kind of mother or father actually says, "My baby makes me miserable?" (Fine, there are some who do. But seldom, and usually with caveats saying, "I'd lay down my life for him!" —right before sobbing.)

New parenthood, the study found, let to a drop in happiness by 1.4 units, which is considered severe. Compare that to other known sad life events, like divorce and unemployment. Those dropped in happiness units by .6 and 1, respectively. Having a baby even beat out the death of a spouse in the misery scale.

So what's the big deal? This drop in happiness leads many parents to stop having more kids. In Germany, where the study took place, most people who want kids report wanting two. The reality is, the population growth is a 1.4—demonstrating many have the one and think, "Yeah, we're good." In fact, the numbers showed that the larger the drop on the happiness scale, the lower the likelihood of siblings for Greta. This was especially the case for parents over 30 with university degrees.

Interestingly, neither mothers nor fathers were more likely than the other to be less happy. There doesn't appear to be a gender gap in the kids = misery scale. Win?

Photo credit: Getty Images

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