Does marriage make people (un)happy?

Last month, behavioural scientist Paul Dolan from the London School of Economics claimed that unmarried women were notably happier than married women, suggesting that, if women wanted to live a most fulfilled life, they should stay both single and childless. 

We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness.

Speaking at the Hay festival on Saturday, Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, said the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly marriage and raising children.

“We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”
Dolan was promoting his book, Happy Ever After, in which he uses statistics from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS)—which raises an immediate question of whether the survey data was intended to be used in this way. It is also worth asking whether ‘being happy’ is the primary reason to make decisions about the direction of our lives. Guardian columnist Susanne Moore asks in response:

Is it time to rethink the ‘testimony’?

At the Second Festival of Theology, Mike Starkey (who teaches at the Church Army centre in Sheffield) suggested that we need to rethink the traditional ‘testimony’: It is a truth universally acknowledged that Christians invited to talk about their faith look terrified. Most people simply don’t know where to start. And that’s before you introduce … Continue Reading

Does theology help makes sense of Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already all-pervasive in our daily lives. From social media algorithms, to medical equipment detecting heart conditions. But the ‘robots’ in our lives look very different from the robots imagined in science fiction: they look like servers hidden away in secure buildings, and for most of us they look like our computer … Continue Reading

Should Christian leaders pronounce on political positions?

Last week, Archbishop Justin Welby published an article in the Daily Mail in which he argued that wealthier families should pay more tax in order to reduce the widening levels of inequality in contemporary Britain. His comments accompanied the report of a ‘think tank’ group he has been part of, the ‘left leaning’ Institute for … Continue Reading