Saturday, March 24, 2007

Kids Make You Miserable

Greg, posts a link to an article in Slate which reveals that happiness reaches a minimum at age 45. We are happy we are young, we are happy when we are old. We are miserable in middle age.

The economists behind the research suggest that perhaps during middle age your sense of invincibility is crushed leading to less happiness. By the time you are old you have come to terms with it.

Baloney.

You are crushed in middle age. You are crushed by the responsibility of taking care of whining rug rats. Sure you say, you are more often happy because of your kids than mad. Yet, the true cost of kids isn't simply whether or not they make you pull your hair out. It's what you give up to have them. Its romantic nights together with your significant other, trips to Europe and Asia, and the chic loft downtown. Its giving up the sports car in favor of a minivan and replacing salsa lessons with soccer practice.

Kids, in short, make you miserable.

Yet, there are few desires more strong, few life choices more satisfying than having children. All of which serves to underscore one of the most important points about happiness research - what we want to do and what will make us happy are not the same thing.

Sure people want to be happy. They just don't want to do the things that make will make them happy. They want to do the things they are emotionally driven to do. This may or may not end in happiness.

For economists this means that there is no reason to suppose maximizing utility and maximizing happiness will produce the same results.

13 comments:

Nicolas Tremblay said...

I'm not sure that because people are emotionally driven in their behavior meant that they don't tend to make descisions that increase their level of happiness, it's just that happiness is not well capture in the research beneath the affirmation of Blanchflower and Oswald...Why I think that

Anonymous said...

Parents make big sacrifices for kids.

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