Does having a husband make you happier? According to this behavioural scientist, it's actually quite the opposite

The rom com narrative - we're looking at you Bridget Jones - tells us the roadmap for women is simple; find a man, create a home, raise 2.5 children and your work is done. Happy ending, cue the credit roll.

But times have changed, and it's now become quite apparent to many women that the path to true happiness doesn't always have to involve a diamond ring. In fact, one happiness expert is arguing that it's actually quite the opposite.

According to Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics,Unmarried and childless women are the happiest sub-group in the population.

Dolan also argued that these women live longer than their married and child-rearing peers.

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“Married people are happier than other population sub-groups but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: f*****g miserable,” he said,Speaking at theHay festival.

“We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.

He claims that women don't benefit from a male influence in their life, while a female partner helps men to "calm down", thus reducing their stress levels and boosting their wellbeing.

“You take less risks, you earn more money at work and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population sub-group are women who never married or had children."

MORE:Why over 50s are having the most adventurous sex of their lives

Dolan’s latest book, Happy Ever After, cites evidence from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) on the correlation between happiness and marriage.

In the book, he shows that there can be many unexpected paths to lasting fulfilment; including, but not limited to, career advancement, lasting friendships, seeing the world or discovering oneself and purpose.

Lauren Hughes
Lauren Hughes

Lauren is deputy editor at woman& in the UK and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren has worked on the woman&home brand for four years. Before woman&home Lauren worked across a variety of women's lifestyle titles, including GoodTo, Woman's Own, and Woman magazine. After starting out working for a local paper in Yorkshire, her journalism career took her to Bristol where she hunted out stories for national papers and magazines at Medavia news agency, before landing a job in London working as a lifestyle assistant.

Lauren loves helping people share their stories, bringing experiences to life online, honing her interview techniques with everyone from authors to celebrities, headteachers to local heroes. As well as having a good nose for a story, Lauren has a passion for the English language and years of experience optimizing digital content to reach the widest audience possible. During her time at w&h, Lauren has worked on big brand campaigns like the Amazing Women Awards and assisted in developing w&h expert-approved Buyer's Guides—the place to go if you're looking to splash out on an important purchase and want some trusted advice. In addition to her journalism career, Lauren also has a background in copywriting for prestigious brands such as Inhabit Hotel, eco-development K'in in Tulum, social enterprise The Goldfinger Factory and leading London architect Holland Harvey, using language in all its glorious forms, from detailed guidebooks to snappy social content. 

A big fan of adventure, Lauren is also a keen travel writer and loves sharing tips on where to find the best places to eat, drink, and be merry off the beaten track. Lauren has written a series of travel guides for London hotels and loves sharing her insights into a destination's cultural and culinary offerings. If you need a recommendation on any UK destination, she's more than happy to help. At the weekend, you'll usually find her hanging out with her pet cat (or anyone else's pet she can get her hands on), escaping to the countryside, or devouring a good book. 

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