Wharton School’s Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers published a study in May that’s been dubbed “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness.” The title kinda says it all, but the gist is that, while, 35 years ago or so, women reported being happier than men, today women–regardless of marital or employment status or whether or not they have kids–report being unhappier than men. And, as one might imagine, dozens of articles came out in the wake of that study, riffing on the whys.
From the Sunday London Times:
There’s plenty more opportunities for women than there used to be–but then again, that means you are always questioning whether the moves you have made are correct, or whether you should have done something else.
Over the last 50 years, women have secured greater opportunity, greater achievement, greater influence, and more money. But over the same time period, they have become less happy, more anxious, more stressed, and, in ever-increasing numbers, they are medicating themselves for it,’ says management thinker and author Marcus Buckingham… ‘Better education and job opportunities and freedoms have decreased life happiness for women.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a bit of a problem with that assessment. (Not least because it’s coming from a guy.) The Washington Examiner’s Marta Mossburg had this to say:
Too many choices or opportunities can paralyze rather than inspire. Men are used to this. For women, opportunity is still a relatively new phenomenon, and often a confusing one.
Women’s declining happiness in the face of greatly expanded freedoms should come as no surprise. But neither should a reversal of the trend once they have the time to get used to it.
That I can get behind. What about you? What do you think? Does this idea get your hackles up, or do you think there might be a kernel of not-so-convenient truth in there? Would you be happier if your only career options were teacher, secretary, nurse; what if our society was down with arranged marriages, for that matter? And, okay, we’ll be happier once we get used to it. Swell. But in the meantime, we’re living our lives now, wishing we were just a tad happier than we are… So how do we get there?