Does Marriage Correlate With Happiness?

Anyone who’s been in a relationship knows–there are ups and downs. Good times and bad. That’s why wedding vows require you to promise that you’ll stick with someone “for better or for worse.” But, as we see in so many movies and hear in so many stories, it seems that true love is the ultimate end goal for so many people. So many people spend much of their lives seeking true companionship. So: are relationships really the key to happiness?


screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-9-18-31-pmImage Found Here

In an article called Does marriage make people happy, or do happy people get married? in the Journal of Socio-Economics by Alois Stutter and Bruno S. Frey, this question is explored exactly. In fact, this examines whether this hypothesized correlational/causal relationship might have reverse causality. The article discusses a multitude of surveys that indicate that with marriage comes increased physical and psychological well-being. While it is a relatively subjective question, it has been found that marriage has a direct correlation with happiness, regardless of gender. However, it seems that difference in happiness between married people and single people has become smaller.

In a longitudinal study to examine whether happiness led to marriage or marriage led to happiness, people were asked to rate their overall happiness/satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10 over a period of time, and people were asked separately if they started the sample single and then got married during the period. The question asked intended to incorporate both a socioeconomic and a general emotional sense of well-being.

One table of data from the study was relatively inconclusive–confounding variables such as employment/unemployment or children, might have contributed to the well-being of participants, and therefore it was impossible to determine if marriage alone made people happier. In a second set of data, it was found that having children slightly increased happiness. A longitudinal observational study conducted in Germany between the years of 1984 and 2000 showed more conclusive results, where people who married eventually were generally happier and more satisfied than people who remained single.

Another study in the article shows that the years leading up to and at the beginning of marriage came with higher happiness and satisfaction than times later in the marriage (the happiness line on the graph increased and then decreased). Also, people who married and stayed married tended to be happier than people who married and later divorced.

In conclusion, married people and people who expected to marry were simply happier than people who were to remain single.

Another article on Psychology Today by Sonja Lyubomirsky Ph.D. examines and discusses that the relationship is both causal and reverse causal. That is, being married increases our likelihood of being happy, but happy people are also more likely to get married in the first place. And, her article enforces the idea that the difference between happiness of married and single people gets smaller over time; the more time people are married, the less likely they are to be more happy than single people.

I’ve always pictured myself getting married and having lots of children. So, even if it isn’t for the entirety of the marriage (according to studies), confirming that marriage does lead to happiness is a comforting idea.


3 thoughts on “Does Marriage Correlate With Happiness?

  1. Jeremy Perdomo


    Let me just say that anyone who is married will be very drawn to reading your post; who would ever think that people who are married would not be happy (just kidding, especially considering the high divorce rate in this country, which happens to be the highest in the world). Continuing on, you asked a question at the beginning of the article that sparked my interest: are relationships the key to happiness? Without any scientific evidence and only my opinion to support this, I believe that relationships are definitely not the KEY to happiness. The moment you start to depend on someone else to be happy is when things turn sour, so I believe that people must learn to be independent first, and then get into a relationship. If not, people turn pathetic and depend on someone else in order to find their own happiness.

    With that in mind, I found it comforting how people believed that being in a marriage made them happier. But, what do single people believe on this topic; what are the perks they find in being single? Do they enjoy it? Read this article I found about single people being mentally stronger than married ones and I promise you will be drawn in by the results:

  2. Asaad Saleh Salim Al Busaidi

    I think that the answer to the question of whether marriage is correlated with happiness answer depends on how people define happiness. I also think that since the study is observational there will be so many third variable, which could indicate that the study’s results could suffer from the Texas Shooter Problem, as researchers could have difficulties measuring how happy married people are due to the fact that each person has his/her own definition of happiness. Also, because happiness, as mentioned in your post, could depend on the number of children, salary, and and employment. Furthermore, marriage could significantly differ among cultures around the world. This link shows how different a marriage could be in other cultures and how cultures view marriage.

  3. Caroline Sorrentino

    This was a great post! I think another huge part of being “happier” married has to do with being financially stable and having the rest of your life planned out. I think this blog post could use a little more research! This article discusses how being financially stable can determine your happiness. I feel that someone married could be happier because they know if something goes wrong in their life, they are backed up whereas if you’re single, you’re on your own and that can be scary.

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