Marriage Makes People Happier Than Unmarried People, Study Finds

A new study has found that married people are happier than unmarried people, regardless of their age, gender, or income. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Texas at Austin, analyzed data from over 200,000 people from 149 countries, and measured their subjective well-being, life satisfaction, and positive and negative emotions.


How the Study Was Conducted: The Data and the Methodology

The study used data from the Gallup World Poll, which is a survey that collects information from people around the world on various aspects of their lives, such as health, education, work, and happiness. The survey asks respondents to rate their current life satisfaction on a scale of 0 to 10, and to report how often they experienced positive and negative emotions in the past 24 hours.

The researchers compared the responses of married and unmarried people, controlling for other factors that could affect their happiness, such as age, gender, income, education, religion, and health. They also distinguished between different types of unmarried people, such as divorced, widowed, separated, or never married.

What the Study Found: The Results and the Implications

The study found that married people reported higher levels of subjective well-being, life satisfaction, and positive emotions than unmarried people, across all regions and countries. The study also found that the happiness gap between married and unmarried people was larger in countries with lower levels of economic development, social support, and gender equality.

The researchers explained that marriage may provide various benefits that enhance happiness, such as companionship, emotional support, financial security, and social recognition. They also suggested that marriage may buffer against the negative effects of stress, loneliness, and poverty, especially in less developed and less egalitarian countries.

The study also found that different types of unmarried people had different levels of happiness, depending on their circumstances and preferences. For example, divorced and widowed people were less happy than never married people, as they may have experienced loss, trauma, or stigma. However, some never married people may have chosen to remain single, and may have alternative sources of happiness, such as friends, hobbies, or careers.

The researchers concluded that marriage is not a universal recipe for happiness, and that happiness depends on various factors, both personal and contextual. They also emphasized that happiness is not a fixed state, but a dynamic and subjective process, that can change over time and across situations.

How the Study Was Received: The Reactions and the Criticisms

The study was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, and received a lot of attention and feedback from the media, the public, and the academic community. Some of the reactions and criticisms were:

  • Positive reactions: Some people praised the study for its large and diverse sample, its rigorous and robust methodology, and its interesting and important findings. They agreed that marriage can be a source of happiness for many people, and that it can offer various advantages and protections that enhance well-being. They also acknowledged that happiness is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, that varies across individuals and cultures.
  • Negative reactions: Some people criticized the study for its limited and biased data, its flawed and simplistic assumptions, and its misleading and harmful implications. They argued that the Gallup World Poll is not a reliable or representative source of data, as it may exclude or misrepresent some groups of people, such as LGBTQ+ people, cohabiting couples, or polyamorous relationships. They also challenged the notion that marriage is a universal or desirable goal, and that it can guarantee or increase happiness. They pointed out that marriage can also entail various costs and risks, such as domestic violence, divorce, or infidelity, that can reduce or destroy happiness. They also highlighted that happiness is not a objective or measurable outcome, but a subjective and personal experience, that depends on one’s own values and choices.

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