DP7311 The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness

Author(s): Betsey Stevenson, Justin Wolfers
Publication Date: June 2009
Keyword(s): gender, happiness, job satisfaction, life satisfaction, subjective well-being, women's movement
JEL(s): D6, I32, J1, J7, K1
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Public Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=7311

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.