Women who are never married and don’t have children are the most content and outlive their married counterparts, according to Paul Dolan, a behavioral science professor at the London School of Economics.
Dolan, a best-selling author whose most recent book, “Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myths of the Perfect Life,” analyzed data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), found that married people said they were happier overall, but only when their partner was within earshot.
“Married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: f—–g miserable,” Dolan said at the Hay Festival in Wales on Sunday, according to The Guardian. “We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”
Married men take fewer risks and “calm down” and therefore are healthier than their single counterparts, whereas women did not see the same benefits. Women’s health was mainly unaffected by marriage, but middle-aged married women reported more mental and physical problems than single ones.
“You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and she dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children,” Dolan said.
Despite the fact that never getting married may be better for women overall, there are still stigmas associated with never tying the knot, Dolan explained.
“You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children — ‘Bless, that’s a shame, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll meet the right guy and that’ll change.’ No, maybe she’ll meet the wrong guy and that’ll change. Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner,” he said.