Research finds that Childless couples are happier

By Nina Steele 

There is no denying the fact that we live in a world dominated by the ideal of the nuclear family. Wherever you look the message is that having children is what matters. I love Christmas and suspect that I always will, regardless of its association with children. I am sure that most people have noticed the increasing number of adverts at Christmas that have the ideal of the nuclear family at its centre, with reference to generations of the same family enjoying the festive season. It is easy to see why some childless people might feel excluded, particularly anyone still struggling to come to terms with not having children.

Funny enough, I do enjoy some of those commercials, as they remind me of my own childhood. I suppose once you have come to terms with not having children and have found a new meaning to your life, it becomes easier to accept all these images of happy families without feeling that something is missing in your own life. There are so many references to the nuclear family in the media that one would assume that people without children are a tiny minority not worth talking about. If figures from the Office for National Statistics are anything to go by however, people without children are in quite a great number and a force to be reckoned with. Indeed, the ONS figures for 2013 for the total number of families in the UK put the number of families with no children at over 7.5 million out of a total of 18.2 million families. It is fair to point out that this also includes people with no dependent children and so the number of actual childless families could be considerably less. Even so, childless people are not a part of society that should be brushed under the carpet or only mentioned in negative terms, rather they are a sizeable part of society that deserves to be given the same attention given to people with children.

One of the reasons for this lack of attention is the fact that a lot of people without children find it a difficult subject to talk about, both those who are childless by choice and circumstance. It is almost as if it is something to be ashamed of. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to be ashamed of not having children and if the findings of a recent survey are anything to go by, not having children has its plus sides too. Indeed the survey, which was carried out by the Open University and was extensively reported in the national media including the Guardian newspaper, found that overall, couples without children are happier than those with children. Yes you heard it, not having children is not that bad after all. I suppose that for those people who are childless by choice, these findings will come as no surprise. However for people who are childless by circumstance, particularly those still struggling to come to terms with not having children, this survey should hopefully help to show that not having children should not mean a life full of emotional pain and sadness but instead one can still find peace and joy if only one is ready to accept that there is more to life than having children.



  1. GemmaRowlands says

    I think that children bring a different type of lifestyle to your world, and there are a lot of people who much prefer to be able to do their own thing in later life rather than having other people rely on them. Children bring love, of course, but also a lifetime of stress and worry – because they are always on your mind. I know that a lot of people put emphasis on having children, but I feel that there is a lot to be said for a life without, too.

    • Julez Fitzmond says

      A lot of people underestimate just how much having a child will change their lives, I think. One minute you only have to think of yourself, and the next you have to pledge to put somebody else before you for the rest of your life. It’s not easy; but is something that most parents manage to adapt to. However yes Gemma, you’re right, stress is definitely a factor!

    • Dawn Kells says

      I actually love the lifestyle that I have at the moment, and I know that I wouldn’t like it if I had a child, because I would have to change the way that I live to such an extent. So I really understand why people might be happier without children, but only those who have come to terms with the decision.

  2. I very much hope that these findings will help those still struggling to come to terms with not having children. Yes most children do bring joy, however, some do bring pain as well. To think that having children will complete you sounds romantic on paper, but the reality can be anything but. No one can complete you but yourself.

  3. I just don’t want children, so am childless by choice, and I look at my friends who are stressed out trying to provide for their kids and I just think – why? Why do that when you could get so much from the world you live in? Children aren’t for me at all, but it comes as no surprise to me to hear that those couples without children may actually be happier!

    • Yes many people do seem to be permanently stressed with raising children yet some go on to have more children and you do wonder why. And then there are those who complain constantly about the cost of raising a child and how they are in debt etc. and then go on to have more children. I suppose again it is to do in many ways with doing what society expects of you regardless of whether it makes you happy or not. And of course there are those who have as many children as they can have to abuse the welfare system, thankfully those in the latter group seem to be a tiny minority, at least that is what I would like to believe.

  4. It’s nice to see what it may be like on the other side as my vision was always with children. Now childless not by choice it’s hard to think what life will be like. That sounds really bizzare as I am sure it will be much easier, its just hard when your vision was something else.

    • Julez Fitzmond says

      Lucy, you just have to step down another path. It doesn’t mean a completely different life, not at all, but just think what you could do with all of the time that you will have spare. Start a new project, get new hobbies – I am sure that, for you, happiness will come.

  5. Julez Fitzmond says

    I think that there is a lot of information out there about what it should be like to have a child, however very few people bother to focus on the stress of the situation, and just how difficult it can be to keep your home funded as well as any kind of lifestyle. So I think that couples without children might well be less stressed.

    • Dawn Kells says

      Yes, people only seem to focus on the positive things. But with children, you have another person/people who you have to make your number one priority, and this isn’t something that comes easily to everybody. Certainly it wouldn’t to me, and people do need to be told exactly what to expect when they have children.

  6. Many people have children to fit in with the rest of society as it is the conventional thing to do. It is only when we could not have children that we realised that we have never felt that strongly about having children in the first place. Incidentally, my husband and I are the only people in our respective families not to have children.

    • Julez Fitzmond says

      I agree. I have seen a lot of couples have children just because it is what is expected of them – but it’s a huge decision to make based on something that you might not really want, and that one decision (which can sometimes be made rather rashly) will then stay with you for the rest of your life. So it’s definitely not something to be taken lightly, and it has to be done for the right reasons.

      • Dawn Kells says

        Totally right, Julez. Having a child isn’t like having a hamster or a nice car – it’s not something that will be gone in a few years, it’s a huge commitment. So my message to anyone who is unsure is that you should always do what YOU want rather than what other people expect you to want.

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