London: Mothers who stay at home are as content and satisfied with their lives as those who choose to go out to work, a new government study has found.
For decades, women have been told that being housewives will leave them downtrodden and unfulfilled.
In contrast, the report found that house husbands are generally much less happy. The results of David Cameron’s campaign to measure well-being also revealed that the happiest people are traditional married families.
Couples who wed are more content than others, and those with children feel a greater sense of purpose.
The findings come as a powerful endorsement to campaigners who believe the Government should do more to encourage marriage and more to help couples who have children.
The Prime Minister has ordered the well-being measures to be developed with the aim of using them to guide future Government policies, in the belief that the welfare of the country depends on more than its economic success or failure.
Among other findings are signs that ethnic minorities are less happy with their lives than whites. The young and old are both happier than the middle-aged who struggle with worries over jobs, mortgages and high costs of living.
Those in their middle age are happier and more confident than at any other time in their lives, according to a study.
Researchers found age is no longer a barrier for women with most believing it is attitude and experience that counts.
Two thirds of the 1,400 polled said they no longer felt their age, with more than half feeling between five and ten years younger.
The report for Woman and Home magazine dubbed them the ‘Generation Y Not’.
Those questioned said their best advice for future generations would be that you are never too old to try something and to maintain your independence.
Half said they were confident with their looks and would prefer to grow old gracefully than go under the surgeon’s knife.
The happiness index was based on findings from a survey in which 80,000 were asked four questions – how satisfied they were with their lives, to what extent their lives were worthwhile, how happy they were yesterday, and how anxious they felt yesterday.
The answers they gave are likely to lead to pressure on Cameron to act on his election promise to give a tax break to married couples – a pledge that will not be made good at next month’s Budget.
It found that on average the married rated their satisfaction with life as 7.7 out of ten, the value of their lives at 7.9, and their happiness at 7.6. Comparable scores among cohabitees were lower at 7.5, 7.7 and 7.3.
A typical individual put life satisfaction at 7.4, value of their lives at 7.6, and happiness at 7.3.
“Although the presence of children does not alter overall life satisfaction or improve day-to-day emotions, it may bring an increased sense of meaning and purpose to people’s lives, therefore increasing average scores for the “worthwhile” question,” the Daily Mail quoted the report drawn up by the Office for National Statistics as saying.
Women who stayed at home to look after the family recorded high scores almost identical to those of working women.
The findings appeared to undermine the assumption of ministers since the 1990s that it is good for mothers to go out to work.
The high scores – topped out at 7.9 for life being worthwhile – are all the more surprising because many stay-at-home mothers live on comparatively low incomes because their families must rely on a single salary.
However, house husbands scored poorly, with 6.7 for satisfaction and 7.0 for happiness.
The worst scores were achieved by the divorced, the separated, the unemployed and the long-term sick, and, in a worrying finding, among black people.
Black people rated satisfaction at 6.6 compared with 7.4 for white people. Indians also scored 7.4, the Chinese 7.3, the Pakistanis 7.0 and Arabs 6.8.