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Why are Women Less Happy?

Economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers explore an interesting question:

By many objective measures, the lives of women in the United States have improved over the past 35 years, yet we show that measures of subjective well-being indicate that women’s happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men. The paradox of women’s declining relative well-being is found across various datasets, measures of subjective well-being, and is pervasive across demographic groups and industrialized countries. Relative declines in female happiness have eroded a gender gap in happiness in which women in the 1970s typically reported higher subjective well-being than did men. These declines have continued and a new gender gap is emerging—one with higher subjective well-being for men.

H/T: Andrew Sulivan


  1. robert wrote:

    Wendell Berry answers…

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 10:42 am | Permalink
  2. j. wrote:

    i think the authors are onto something when they suggest that men have disproportionately benefited from the gains obtained by women. we wanted sexual freedom, economic parity and a diminished emphasis on our biological differences, thinking that these changes would somehow do away with the historic and systematic injustices to which women were vulnerable. well, the joke’s on us in more ways than can be recounted here. it’s taken us (and by “us”, i mean “me”) all this innovation in gender relations to realize that perhaps the gospel & the biblical account of human relations is the most liberating, realistic and hopeful for everyone involved. my $.02. :)

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 10:52 am | Permalink
  3. Dan wrote:

    This may have something to do with the alarming extent to which women in the decades right after WWII were prescribed tranquilizers. Maybe it was just the valium talking up until the 1970s?

    Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 9:56 am | Permalink
  4. Cortney wrote:

    Well when it comes to men and love I believe one major issue is expressed perfectly in the ever so popular song, Poker Face by Lady Gaga.

    “…I wanna hold em’ like they do in Texas Plays
    Fold em’ let em’ hit me raise it baby stay with me (I love it)
    Luck and intuition play the cards with Spades to start
    And after he’s been hooked I’ll play the one that’s on his heart…
    I’ll get him hot, show him what I’ve got…
    Can’t read my…
    No he can’t read my poker face (She’s got to love nobody)
    Can’t read my…I wanna roll with him a hard pair we will be,
    A little gambling is fun when you’re with me (I love it)
    Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun
    And baby when it’s love if it’s not rough it isn’t fun, fun…
    I won’t tell you that I love you
    Kiss or hug you, Cause I’m bluffin’ with my muffin…”

    So if this is what modern women are buying into (which we all are at some level) then the answer is in the pursuit. The theory goes like this: If we’re vulnerable with a man then we’re seen as week, if we search for love then we will be disappointed, if we show our hand too early then he’ll be frightened off and sex is what he wants. Now only if we can learn how to have casual sex like a “man” with no attachment. Then compact that with lie we tell one another that eventually the casual sex man will magically turn into a relationship man. No matter what most women may say we truly don’t love playing this sick game but somehow have convinced ourselves it’s a survival skill. Consequently, we find exactly what we’re searching for and are the very cause of our own unhappiness. Plus, face it there are a lot of assholes out there.

    Obviously there’s a lot more to this topic but the popularity of this song has been driving me crazy for awhile now, too bad it’s so catchy.

    Monday, June 8, 2009 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

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