A baby, we’ve all been told, is the most precious and life-fulfilling gift one can receive. Well, now it seems like science or, at least, new parents may beg to differ. According to a new study out of Germany, many parents experience a sudden and drastic decrease in happiness following the birth of their first child.
The study, “Parental Well-Being Surrounding First Birth as a Determinant of Further Parity Progression,” published in the journal Demography, was conducted by Canadian demographer Rachel Margolis and her colleagues in order to investigate the decreasing birthrate in Germany, which recently surpassed Japan to become the country with the world’s lowest birthrate.
What they found was that people initially planned on having more kids, but, after they had one, changed their minds.
Why? Well, because of happiness or, really, lack thereof.
The study asked people to rank their overall well-being from 1 to 10 over the course of about five years: three years prior to the birth of their first child and two years after. Most reported an average 1.6 decrease in happiness after the baby was born.
“Parents’ experience with the first birth is an important and understudied factor in determining completed family size,” explained the researchers, “and policy-makers concerned about low fertility should pay attention to factors that influence the well-being of new parents.”
However, it should be noted that this study only covers the strains of being a new parent, not a parent in general. The authors say that further research will be needed to create a complete picture.