WEDNESDAY, Nov. 4, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Want to be a happy married couple? Consider having kids.
A new study found that having children boosts happiness. And the more, literally, the merrier.
But unmarried couples shouldn't expect to find greater happiness through child-raising. The study, published in the Oct. 14 online edition of the Journal of Happiness Studies, suggests that having children has little or no effect on boosting happiness among couples who aren't hitched.
The findings contradict previous research that suggested that having more offspring doesn't lead to greater happiness and might even make people less satisfied with their lives. One theory behind the conclusion is that parents don't receive many rewards in return for the hard work of raising children.
The new study, however, notes that parents say children are one of the most important things in their lives, if not the most important.
The study found that life satisfaction for married people -- women especially -- goes up the more kids they have. Single, separated and co-habiting people, by contrast, report negative experiences.
"One is tempted to advance that children make people better off under the 'right conditions' -- a time in life when people feel that they are ready, or at least willing, to enter parenthood," Dr. Luis Angeles, of the University of Glasgow in Scotland, said in a news release from the journal's publisher. "This time can come at very different moments for different individuals, but a likely signal of its approach may well be the act of marriage."
Boys Town has more about parenting.