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  1. Some might wonder whether 2008 was a particularly bad year when it comes to Americans’ happiness because of the financial crisis and recession. I checked to see whether the difference in trends between 2008, 2010 and 2012 was statistically significantly, and they were not. Studies do say the financial crisis affected the answer to the General Social Survey happiness question, but only for a short time. The recession did have an effect on happiness, but it was probably more of a population effect so that all the levels would be affected. If the recession were a driving force behind the change, I would expect to see very different trends following the birth of children in other years. ^
  2. By significant change, I mean a change of at least one point up or down the ordinal happiness scale. Because there are three levels to the “very happy, pretty happy or not too happy” scale, parents can change zero, one or two points in either direction. ^
  3. Because we are not able to account for length of time in the relationship, we looked at the overall change in relationship satisfaction for all parents as a proxy and found that among all parents who experienced a change in relationship satisfaction during the same period, three out of 10 are likely to experience lowered levels of satisfaction in their relationships. ^

Heather Krause is a statistician who works with nonprofit organizations.

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