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Happiness and Marriage

Over the entire history of humanity, binding relationships between males and females were vital for survival and reproduction. In Christian-influenced European societies, marriage formed an obligatory basis of families for many centuries. Intimate relationships between unmarried individuals were stigmatised for a long time and children born to unmarried parents were often rejected by society. With the advancing secularization since the beginning of the 20th century, the social pressure to marry is becoming less and less pronounced. Nevertheless, even today, many people still choose to enter into the covenant of marriage, which suggests that being married generates an increase in individual well-being that goes beyond the fullfilment of social norms.

Difference in Average Life Satisfaction between Married and Unmarried Individuals. The average happiness of unmarried is subtracted from the average happiness of married people for every year. The horizontal dashed line points out the situation where there is no di erence in average happiness. Source: Author's calculations based on SOEP data sample from 1984 to 2018.