March 26, 2019

Raising Kids Is Depressingly Expensive

“For several decades, the work of happiness researchers has consistently pointed to an unintuitive conclusion: Having children doesn’t tend to make people happier, and might even make them less happy.

“That never made any sense [to me],” says David Blanchflower, an economist at Dartmouth College. If having kids makes people less happy, why do so many people do it? Why would people have more than one child after the supposed misery brought by their first? And most puzzlingly of all, why would evolution produce a disincentive to procreate?

“That never made any sense [to me],” says David Blanchflower, an economist at Dartmouth College. If having kids makes people less happy, why do so many people do it? Why would people have more than one child after the supposed misery brought by their first? And most puzzlingly of all, why would evolution produce a disincentive to procreate?

Blanchflower has long sought to resolve this mismatch between research and human behavior, and he recently made some headway. In a new working paper, he and his co-author, Andrew Clark of the Paris School of Economics, detailed the importance of a single factor: parents’ financial strain. Subtract the stress of struggling to pay bills from the equation, and the presence of children tends to bring parents happiness.”

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