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The Best Predictor of Happiness





August 9, 2023


Americans who are married with children are now leading happier and more prosperous lives, on average, than men and women who are single and childless.

Is that statement surprising? In an age that prizes individualism, workism, and a host of other self-centric “isms” above marriage and family, it may well be. But the reality is that nothing currently predicts happiness in life better than a good marriage. 


This truth is borne out yet again in new research from the University of Chicago, which found that marriage is the “the most important differentiator” of who is happy in America, and that falling marriage rates are a chief reason why happiness has declined nationally. The research, surveying thousands of respondents, revealed a startling 30-percentage-point happiness divide between married and unmarried Americans. This happiness boost held true for both men and women.

“Marital status is and has been a very important marker for happiness,” researcher Sam Peltzman concludes. “The happiness landslide comes entirely from the married. Low happiness characterizes all types of non-married. No subsequent population categorization will yield so large a difference in happiness across so many people.”


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