Science backs that up. In fact, according to a leading expert in happiness, not only are single, childless women happy — they’re actually happier than the rest of the population.
Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics and best-selling author of Happiness By Design, spoke about the topic at this weekend’s Hay Festival in Wales. During his talk, Dolan said that traditional standards for success don’t actually correlate with happiness, especially when it comes to tying the knot and raising kids.
“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: fucking miserable,” he said, per The Guardian.
But while the studies presumably apply to both men and women, Dolan said the negative effects of marriage are compounded for women. For men, marriage often leads to taking fewer risks, making more money at work, and living longer. But women, especially middle-aged married women, are at a higher risk of developing physical conditions and mental illnesses than their single counterparts. They also tend to die sooner, Dolan said.
He added that the social stigma of singledom at middle age might make some women feel pressured or unhappy at times — but there are plenty of benefits to an unmarried, childless lifestyle.
“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,” Dolan said. “Maybe she’ll meet a guy who makes her less happy and healthy, and die sooner.”