We had thought that if we drilled down into the data, we would find that lower income households with a family to support would show much higher levels of unhappiness than those without family responsibilities, but this is not what we found. It seems that a bigger family, no matter your income level, just makes you a more contented human being.
We also found that it does not matter the size of your household. Again we thought the more people shared one roof, the more issues with finances would affect happiness levels. Our survey shows that it does not make a significant difference. Money may need to stretch further, but the happiness each member of your household brings outweighs any financial disadvantage.
Those with family have a clearly different demographic than those who do not. They are older than the average respondent, with a bulge of respondents between the ages of 35 and 44, and a smaller one between 45 and 54. Households in the UAE without children, are largely in the 25-34 age range. There is also a small population bulge between the ages of 55 and 64.
The UAE does well when its residents can bring their families to the country with them. A fairly hefty 10 percent of respondents say that the quality of life of their children is the single most important thing keeping them in the UAE. However, having younger ones also adds to concerns - 13.1% of respondents with children cite education as their single biggest worry when it comes to living in the UAE.
Breaking it down just over 1 in 2 respondents are concerned that there is not enough for their children to do in the UAE outside of school, and 43% of respondents believe staying in the UAE will hurt their children's long term career prospects. The three biggest reasons for this parents say is that schools are not as academically strong as those in their home country (cited by 51% of those who believe the long term opportunities of their children will suffer), children do not learn to be self dependent in the UAE (52%), and children do not develop the peer contacts and support mechanisms they will one day need in their home country (42%). On the flip side, of the majority of respondents who did not think children's long term prospects suffered, 48% believe the network of friends children in the UAE make gives them a considerable advantage over their home country peers.
In terms of education provision specifically, more respondents think the UAE does an equivalent or better job that their home country than those who believe it is inferior. The education sector gets a lot of criticism, so this is something of a strong endorsement of schools and school providers. However, it does matter where respondents are from...
Arab Nationals, Britons and Pakistanis are the happiest in terms of education provision, although probably for quite different reasons. Britons will be happy with the number and quality of schools - there are more England and Wales based schools than any other in the emirates, and they do very well, dominating the Outstanding school list in Dubai, for example. Arab Nationals and Pakistanis are less well served when it comes to schools - a highly rated Arabic medium school, for example, is hard to find - but they would appreciate the standards, diverse offerings and curricula on offer.
Americans, Indians and Western Europeans are the least likely to be satisfied - and for good reasons. There are far less good U.S. schools - and those that are good are often oversubscribed and/or expensive. While there are a significant number of Indian curriculum schools, there is also a huge Indian population in the UAE trying to get into the best of them. Indian families are in general far more price sensitive, so marrying price, performance and availability can be the stuff of nightmares. For Western Europeans, and indeed most other nationalities, schools catering to specific languages (French, German, Japanese, Tagalog... are very, very limited in the UAE).
Schooling concerns aside, having family in the UAE gives its residents a greater sense of stability than those who do not.
Respondents were more likely to say they can plan long term (25% versus 18%), and in fact intend to stay far longer than those without children. They are more likely to own their own home, and to be thinking about buying (another) one. And they are less focused on the short term, less stressed about pay rises, less likely to be saving any money, but less worried that they are not doing so.
The Happiness Survey – Start Here
Happiness in the UAE: An Infographic
Happiness in the UAE: What Draws & Keeps Residents
Happiness in The UAE: A Reverse Brain Drain
Happiness in the UAE: Money can Buy It…
Happiness in the UAE: Nationality Matters
Happiness in the UAE: Location Matters
Happiness in the UAE: Family Matters
Happiness in the UAE: Females do it Better
Happiness in the UAE: Short Term Thinking