Right now the mainstream media is circulating a study that showed women are happier being single or divorced than they are being married, however, some experts are saying that the study has been completely misunderstood, and the current conclusion is literally fake news.
It all started when a professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics, Paul Dolan, was giving a presentation on his book “Happily Ever After.” Dolan was discussing his findings on data from an American Time Use Survey from which he gathered his findings.
Within the survey asked whether there was a spouse present or absent. According to the findings, women said there wasn’t one around, and answered subsequent questions about how happy they were. Dolan took the data he saw and came to a conclusion.
“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,” said Dolan.
The Guardian was in the room during Dolan’s presentation and off it went, spurring on a whole host of articles from various media sites like the New York Post and The Independent, proclaiming that women and marriage just don’t mix. It circulated like wildfire.
However, as some looked into the data itself, they realized that Dolan simply misunderstood the findings because he misunderstood the question.
UVA Professor W. Bradford Wilcox quickly pointed out where Dolan went wrong.
“…Dolan appears to have misread ATUS survey questions regarding whether or not spouse was in the household to refer to whether or not the spouse was present for the interview–and thereby drew incorrect conclusions about marrieds’ happiness, especially wives’ happiness,” tweeted Bradford.
3. But Dolan appears to have misread ATUS survey questions regarding whether or not spouse was in the household to refer to whether or not the spouse was present for the interview–and thereby drew incorrect conclusions about marrieds' happiness, especially wives' happiness.
— Brad Wilcox (@WilcoxNMP) May 29, 2019
To back up the fact that Dolan reached the wrong conclusion, he posted the findings from a study by the General Social Survey by the Institute for Family Studies, which showed married people being far more happy than divorced or single people by leaps and bounds.
— Brad Wilcox (@WilcoxNMP) May 29, 2019
Adjunct professor and time use researcher Gray Kimborough also called out the spread of misinformation based on Dolan’s misinterpretation of the information, by noting that the numbers Dolan cites weren’t even part of the ATUS interview, but were asked of couples by a CPS interview some months prior. A closer look at the question shows that the survey was asking if a spouse was present in the room during the time of the asking.
“These are the values that the marital status variable takes,” tweeted Kimborough. “When I calculate mean “happiness” values over these, they roughly line up with the book figure. So it isn’t measuring a spouse’s presence for the interview, or even for any activities–just presence *in the household*.”
These are the values that the marital status variable takes. When I calculate mean "happiness" values over these, they roughly line up with the book figure. So it isn't measuring a spouse's presence for the interview, or even for any activities–just presence *in the household*. pic.twitter.com/nKyebGpwEi
— Gray 'serial millennial myth debunker' Kimbrough (@graykimbrough) May 28, 2019
The General Social Survey by the Institute for Family Studies does provide more of a look into the happiness levels of those who are married vs. those who are divorced or never married. The study was conducted over a period of eight years from 2010 to 2018, giving us a near decade of information to work with.
“The story is straightforward: married respondents are much happier. And consistent with prior research, parents are a little less happy than non-parents, provided they are unmarried. In addition, the results don’t look that different when limited to female survey respondents,” said the IFS in their study.
The IFS even found that unhappiness is much higher in divorced or single people, specifically those who have children.
Unhappiness levels based on married, vs divorced, vs single. Fascinating find given the current misinformation spreading around like wildfire from a bad study. pic.twitter.com/1oGaecxSXz
— Brandon Morse (@TheBrandonMorse) May 30, 2019
So the truth is that marriage does make people happier. Children do reduce the happiness factor, but only slightly, and married parents are still far and away happier than those who are divorced or single, especially when children are involved in their lives.
The media got it wrong again, and now we’re left with the question of why the media was so ecstatic to report the false narrative that marriage makes women miserable.