Are Fathers happier than Men without Children?

FATHERS tend to be happier than men without children, while women’s wellbeing is much the same whether they are a mother or not.

The latest findings from the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index released today on Father’s Day also reveal that the highest wellbeing belongs to fathers with three children.

However, among fathers of more than three children, wellbeing is significantly lower for fathers with only daughters than for a dad with only sons or with a mixed gender family, the report “The Wellbeing of Australians – the wellbeing of parents” finds.


The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index regularly surveys people to evaluate their satisfaction with life across a range of issues including health, security, sense of community, standard of living and relationships. This provides a measure of subjective wellbeing, or happiness.

The new report finds the most significant difference in subjective wellbeing between men without children and fathers is in their satisfaction with their relationships. Being in a committed relationship with a partner appears to be a key to higher wellbeing in fathers. On a scale of 0-100, satisfaction with personal relationships was almost 12 points lower for men without children than for fathers, the study shows.

Men without children also reported lower scores on their sense of community compared to fathers, the study reveals.

“These findings show that wellbeing for men is closely associated with their close relationships and with their sense of community, and fathers are more likely to have these connections than men with no children,’’ report author Dr Melissa Weinberg from Deakin University’s Australian Centre on Quality of Life says.

“These factors appear from the study to be more critical to the wellbeing of men than women,’’ Dr Weinberg says. “While family appears to be the most important source of relationship and community satisfaction for men, women may maintain social connections in other areas of their lives beyond the family unit.”

The new study also shows that the wellbeing of fathers appears to peak with three children. But while men with three or more sons and those with both sons and daughters continue to have high levels of wellbeing, it is more challenging for fathers with four daughters.

“It’s difficult to speculate why, but perhaps these fathers feel they are in some way missing out on that important sense of connection in a household full of girls,” Dr Weinberg said. “They may be feeling they have less to offer, less knowledge to pass on, than when they have a son.’’

“Other studies have shown that men spend more time with their children if they have at least one son,’’ Dr Weinberg said.

The full report can be viewed at