My colleague John ifcher reports: Kids make you happier

And it is not just their obsessive listening to Pharell Williams!

In short, “it’s remarkable” how just the presence of children seems to protect against declining happiness, Ifcher said.Herbst and Ifcher offer three theories why parents are becoming happier—and what that means for American society.First, there’s the phenomenon that Robert Putnam identified in his 2000 book Bowling Alone—that Americans were becoming increasingly isolated from community and family. Herbst and Ifcher argue that families are the “last vestige of community life in American society.”“Parents are more likely to spend time with friends, get the news, be interested in politics, think people are honest, have faith in the economy, be trusting,” Herbst said. “We think that parents remain better attached to society, and we think the linchpin of that attachment is kids.”Moreover, contrary to the notion that kids hinder the social lives of mom and dad, children help parents stay social. Think PTA meetings, playdates with fellow parents in tow, and taking part in the sociopolitical fabric of the neighborhood.Second, the financial hardship brought on by children has lessened over time. The U.S. now has a more generous earned income tax credit and childcare tax credits, which means parents have more of a financial cushion than they used to.“The social safety net has begun to favor parents more over time than non-parents,” Herbst said. In short: “Parents may have more money in their pocket, and more money translates to more happiness.”Finally, who is having a kid these days is different than who had children in previous decades—and their reasons for doing so have changed. Median marriage ages are increasing, and having a birth out of wedlock isn’t as socially frowned upon as it used to be.

via Does Having Kids Make Parents Happy After All? – Tanya Basu – The Atlantic.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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