The happiest people in Europe are those who live in big families, according to a new report.
Two thirds of people who live in families headed by a couple with three or more children considered themselves to be happy, according to the Eurostat flagship report on the Quality of Life.
The study found that large families are also more satisfied with their lives and have stronger personal relationships than most people.
The major study carried out by the EU’s statistics arm found that 66.8% of homes with two adults and three children said they had been happy “all the time” or “most of the time” over the four weeks before they took the survey.
Just under two thirds of smaller families with one or two children reported being happy “all the time” or “most of the time”.
Which, to be honest, is a very slight difference to those with more children.
Our guess is that the times parents are the least happy is when their child is having a tantrum, or they’re tripping over LEGO bricks left, right and centre.
The researchers who put together the report said these findings come at a time when parents are having fewer children.
The Office for National Statistics revealed that two decades ago, 17% of parents had three children, compared to only 14% now.
Married couples, according to recent UK figures, have an average of 1.79 children, while cohabitee parents average 1.62.
The least happy people were women aged over 65 who lived alone, among whom more than one in five said they rarely felt happy.
There were differences between the happiness levels reported by people in different countries in Europe. Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland showed high values of overall life satisfaction.
Britain scored slightly above-average levels of overall life satisfaction – 7.3 out of 10 compared to an EU average of 7.1.
Many of the correlations between happiness and life experiences will come as no surprise, such as higher levels of satisfaction was linked to a higher level of income, while unemployment was associated with very low levels of happiness.
Good health rated higher on the happiness measure and material living conditions and social relationships were also related to someone’s happiness.
The report used happiness measures, which are based on scores out of 10 given by people asked a series of questions about their wellbeing.
So although bigger families contribute to higher happiness levels, the difference between one to two children and three or more children was small.
Our conclusion? Children in general make us happier…