People less happy during first five years after divorce or death partner

05/10/2010 15:00

The proportion of happy and contented people among those recently divorced or widowed is significantly below average. Newlyweds, on the other hand, are happy. Yet, the proportion of happy persons among those who lost their partners, divorced or married at least 5 years ago appears to be pretty close to average.

As time goes by, people regain their former level of happiness

In 2009, approximately nine in ten people aged 20 years and older in the Netherlands were happy or contented with their lives versus seven in ten among people who recently lost their partners. The proportion is higher (nearly 85 percent) for people who lost their partners 5 or more years ago.

The same applies to divorced men and women. It takes widowed and divorced people at least five years to return to the average level of happiness and contentment in the entire population. Women require more time than men in this respect.

Proportion of contented over-20s by marital status at various moments, 2001/2008

Proportion of contented over-20s by marital status at various moments, 2001/2008

Marital bliss wears off

With 95 percent, the proportion of happy people in the married population is highest in the first year of their marriage. Subsequently, the share of married people who define themselves as happy drops back to the level of people whose marital status has not changed. This applies to people who have been married for at least 5 years. In general, most people adapt to the circumstances and in due course revert back to the same level of happiness and contentment they had before.

Proportion of happy over-20s by marital status at various moments, 2001/2008

Proportion of happy over-20s by marital status at various moments, 2001/2008

Marleen Wingen and Tineke de Jonge