Anna Sheffer
May 30, 2019 7:14 am

It’s no secret that young people—especially young women—face a lot of pressure to settle down. Society would have us believe that the ideal “happily ever after” involves marriage and kids, but not everyone wants that. Now, there’s good news for those who have no intention of tying the knot and/or having kids: Data shows that childless, unmarried women are happier than other people.

The Guardian reports that Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics, wrote a new book that delves into this subject. Dolan’s work, titled Happy Ever After, examines data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to determine the happiness levels in unmarried, married, divorced, separated, and widowed people. He found that married couples are more likely than others to say they’re happy when their spouse is present, but they were more likely to be unhappy than their unmarried counterparts when their partners weren’t present.

Meanwhile, unmarried women who’d never had children lived longer (on average) and reported being happier than any other group.

It’s not clear, however, if these happiness levels are similar among people in same-sex marriages. Nonbinary people are also missing from the findings.

Dolan did find that some people benefit from marriage. His research found that married men were healthier on average than unmarried men, and reaped financial benefits as well. Married women also experienced some perks, but their health didn’t improve as much after settling down.

According to The Guardian, Dolan spoke about his findings at the Hay Festival in Wales on May 25th. In his address, he criticized the societal expectations that women should get married.

Obviously, these findings don’t mean that women should never get married. But the next time a nosy family member asks you about your love life, feel free to tell them that the data supports your choice to be single and child-free.