Last month study results results1 from German researchers on parental well-being (or lack thereof) appeared in news articles around the world. This isn't the first time a study has made waves for supposedly demonstrating that nonparents are happier than parents (see here for more).2 This time, researchers found a headline-grabbing correlation. As CNN3 paraphrased,
According to a recent study, the drop in happiness experienced by parents after the birth of first child was larger than the experience of unemployment, divorce or the death of a partner.
Wow! Having a kid is worse for your happiness than losing the person you love the most. They seem to be inferring that creating life, with your life partner, is more traumatic than that partner dying!
The NY Daily News trumpeted the news, too:
Having Kids is Worse for Happiness Than Divorce, Death of a Partner: Study
But all was not as it seemed. CNN noted, later in the article, that the findings were more nuanced:
The authors said they were not looking at what makes parents happy or unhappy -- they were specifically looking at why, although most German couples say they would like to have two children, they end up stopping after one. "On the whole," Myrskyla said, "despite the unhappiness after the first birth of a baby, having up to two children rather increases overall happiness in life."
Wait, so there's unhappiness after the first child, but "up to two children" increases happiness?
Which one is it?