18 Jul Happiness and a clever wife!
Bright blokes go for smart over sassy
Sydney Morning Herald
July 18, 2007
MEN in search of true happiness should steer clear of bimbos and dumb blondes: research shows men are happiest if they marry smart women.
Every extra year of education a wife has under her belt significantly increases the chances her husband will report being highly satisfied with life. But Shane Mathew Worner, of the Australian National University’s economics program, says it may be that an educated woman’s earning power is her biggest asset.
In a paper to be presented at the HILDA Survey Research conference this week, he says “the higher the education level of the wife, the happier the husband is.”
The study is based on a sample of more than 5000 Australians drawn from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey.
The survey brings together a wealth of data on individuals and enables researchers to track people’s changing life fortunes over years.
Mr Worner’s research shows married men and women on average are happier than single people and cohabiting couples, although happiness declines a bit in the years after marriage.
Asked to quantify what marriage is worth, men say they would have to earn an extra $136,000 a year as a single to achieve the same level of life satisfaction, and women say they would need an extra $122,000. When asked to rate their life satisfaction on a scale from zero to 10, almost 90 per cent of the legally married reported a reasonably high level of happiness, a score of 7-10, compared with about 69 per cent of cohabiting females and 64 per cent of cohabiting males.
The research shows marriage provides a much bigger happiness dividend for men than women. Married men are 135 per cent more likely than their single counterparts to report feeling highly satisfied with life.
A married woman on average is only only 52 per cent more likely than a single to report feeling highly satisfied with life.
But that is because women generally are happier than men, with wives on average reporting higher levels of life satisfaction than husbands, the study shows.
“For a male, being married does not make it more likely that you will experience a high level of life satisfaction, but marriage will make you significantly happier,” Mr Worner says.
A married man’s chances of achieving a high level of happiness – above a score of seven – are improved by 8 per cent for every extra year of education his wife has. But married women’s happiness level is unaffected by their husband’s years of schooling.
Women do not care how dumb their husbands are – but they feel happier if the men are smarter than they are, the study shows.