We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up:
unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population.
And they are more likely to live longer than their married andchild-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness.
Speaking at the Hay Festival, Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioral scienceat the London School of Economics, said the latest evidence showed that thetraditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness -particularly marriage and raising children.
"Married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only whentheir spouse is in the room when they're asked how happy they are. When thespouse is not present: it's miserable," he said.
"We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people overtime, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: ifyou're a man, you should probably get married; if you're a woman, don'tbother."
Men benefited from marriage because they "calmed down", he said.
"You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a littlelonger. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and dies sooner than ifshe never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women whonever married or had children," he said.
Dolan's latest book, Happy Ever After, cites evidence from the AmericanTime Use Survey (ATUS), which compared levels of pleasure and misery inunmarried, married, divorced, separated and widowed individuals.
The study found that levels of happiness reported by those who were marriedwas higher than the unmarried, but only when their spouse was in the room.
Unmarried individuals reported lower levels of misery than marriedindividuals who were asked when their spouse was not present.
Other studies have measured some financial and health benefits in beingmarried for both men and women on average, which Dolan said could be attributedtohigher incomes and emotional support, allowing married people to take risksand seek medical help.
However, Dolan said men showed more health benefits from tying the knot, asthey took fewer risks. Women's health was mostly unaffected by marriage,withmiddle-aged married women even being at higher risk of physical and mentalconditions than their single counterparts.
tie the knot:结婚Despite the benefits of a single, childless lifestyle for women, Dolan saidthat the existing narrative that marriage and children were signs of successmeant that the stigma could lead some single women to feel unhappy.
"You see a single woman of 40, who has never had children - 'Bless, that'sa shame, isn't it? Maybe one day you'll meet the right guy and that'llchange.'"
"当你看到一个40岁的女人,没有结婚,也没有孩子时,你会想 -- '天哪,真是可惜!也许有一天你会遇到那个对的人,一切都会好起来的.'"
"No, maybe she'll meet the wrong guy and that'll change. Maybe she'll meeta guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner."