When it comes to who is happier, people with kids or those without, most research points to the latter.
But a new study suggests that parents are happier than non-parents later in life, when their children move out and become sources of social enjoyment rather than stress.
Most surveys of parental happiness have focused on those whose children still live at home.
These tend to show that people with kids are less happy than their child-free peers because they have less free time, sleep and money.
Christoph Becker at Heidelberg University in Germany and his colleagues wondered if the story might be different for parents whose kids have left home.
To find out, they analysed data from a European survey that asked 55,000 people aged 50 and older about their emotional well-being.
“Hence, children’s role as caregivers, financial support or simply as social contact might outweigh negative aspects of parenthood,” he says. »