The greatest virtue of science is that it uses irrefutable facts, data, and evidence to force us to accept the harsh truths that we, flawed humanity, may wish to ignore. Like the fact that children are—scientifically speaking—small bundles of misery.

We, of course, love children, and think they are just magical and all of that, particularly the children of our friends and family members. It's just that, you know, science seems to find that having kids will cause your life to sink inexorably into a pit of despair. Let's start with the most positive findings: a study in which researchers combed through data from millions of Americans, controlling for as many as variables as possible, in order to isolate only the effect of having children. From the LA Times:

"We find that in terms of life evaluation, people with kids and people without kids are not very different," said Arthur Stone of Stony Brook University. "But people with kids have more joys and happiness as well as more negative emotions, like anger, worry and stress."

It's a push! One might charitably interpret these findings to say that you'll break even by having kids. More happiness, and more unhappiness. Just like being bipolar! Who wouldn't want to sign up for that? But now let's turn our attention to what the study found for parents outside of America:

In the rest of the world, the survey results told a different story: People with kids — at least those outside the rich English-speaking world — tended to be less content with their lives.

"Our results for the world as a whole, as well as for Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and South Asia are consistent with the most common finding in the literature, that those with children have lower life evaluation," said the study.

Without the cosseted comforts of a first world lifestyle, children are a definitive drag on happiness. Well, shoot. At least you have your spouse, right? Let's roll that final study of the day, via the New York Post:

The authors of the report by the UK's Open University say they looked at numerous factors that make happy relationships... the survey of 5,000 came to the conclusion that "childless married and unmarried participants are happier with their relationship and their partner than parents."

The fact that having children has made you a stressed-out manic-depressive who's well on the way to divorce should in no way be interpreted as a sign that we don't like your kids. They're great.

[Photo: Flickr]