On Getting Married and (Not) Getting Happier: What We Know

Claims that if only you get married, you will get happier, are ubiquitous. They are also wrong. There are embarrassing methodological flaws that sully many of the studies used as the basis for those claims. Some of the flaws are so fundamental, that any social scientist who does not recognize them should be run out of the field.

I have been writing about this issue for well over a decade, beginning with my review article with Wendy Morris, “Singles in society and in science,” and, of course, with Singled Out. In this article, I will collect links to some of my previous writings on the topic, in these four sections:

#1 Reviews of many studies of getting married and (not) getting happy

#2 Discussions of individual studies of getting married and (not) getting happy

#3 How to think about, and critique, studies of the implications of getting married

#4 Insights about marital status and happiness, from a social historian and a Nobel Prize winning social scientist

#1 Reviews of many studies of getting married and (not) getting happy

Here’s a review of 18 studies in which people were followed over time and asked repeatedly about their happiness as they changed their marital status:

 Marriage and happiness: 18 long-term studies

 Also relevant: Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

#2 Discussions of individual studies of getting married and (not) getting happy

Here are the results of some individual studies of getting married and (not) getting happier:

Every time you hear that getting married will make you happier, read this

Another longitudinal study of satisfaction

American marriages: Happiness and health decline over time

Oh, Wonkblog, you blew it on marriage and happiness

How 20 million readers were misled about happiness

The fraudulent $100,000 claim about happiness

#3 How to think about, and critique, studies of the implications of getting married

Cracking the code: How to think critically about reports of the alleged superiority of married people (excerpt from Singled Out)

New ways to make married people seem better than they are

He’s trying but he doesn’t get it; do you?

Ferreting out the whole truth behind the half-truth about happiness – oh yes you did!

Genes and marriage: Their claims, my qualms

#4 Insights about marital status and happiness, from a social historian and a Nobel Prize winning social scientist

Why aren’t married people any happier than singles? A Nobel-Prize winner’s answer

The American quest for bliss in marriage has a checkered past