After Decades of Progress, Why Aren't Women Happy?

A new study says all the social and career gains that women have made have not made them more content with their lives

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Things have changed since the 1970s, especially for women. But a new study published this week in the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that those changes may not be making women more content. In fact, the research reveals that women are less happy now then they were in the 1970’s. With all the gains that women have made in the past three and a half decades, why is happiness on the decline? The Takeaway talks to the co-authors of the paper, “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness", Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson. Both are assistant professors in public policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.


Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers

Hosted by:

Katherine Lanpher


Noel King

Comments [5]


"Thats is why women might be unhappy?" Erika, you don't even know why your unhappy. You just are. Tell us something we don't know. [Comment edited. Be respectful. -Eds]

Oct. 15 2009 12:25 PM

Meanwhile, women are in this boat because they are still expected to take the majority share of childcare work and housecare work. If men would pony up and take their rightful half, everyone would be better able to balance career and real life. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. If men were in this situation, they'd be the ones complaining that they want daycare centers at their jobs. But in reality, no one sees anything wrong with a man who spends most of his time at work and his family is told to just suck it up...yet if a woman did the same, she'd be a bad parent/significant other.

May. 21 2009 09:59 AM

(cont.) People need to make a choice--either you want a demanding career, or you want a family/relationship/life outside of work. The two are sometimes mutually exclusive. It sucks, but it's a choice folks need to make. If you want time for your child(ren) / significant other(s) / volunteering / sports, then you need to accept you have to find a job that doesn't make you work 80 hours a week. If you want your dream demanding job, you need to accept that it might be all you have time for.

May. 21 2009 09:57 AM

As Erika said. Women want to "have it all"...and the truth is that they can't. People who speak this truth are often said to be sexist. All you have to do is read some of Betty Friedan's work to see this is true. I read "The Feminine Mystique," about women being told that housewifery is where it's at and where they should find fulfillment, and found it good; I started reading "The Second Stage," about how now women are getting into the workforce and having to abandon families, and stopped reading after the first chapter because it struck me as ridiculous. The book quotes a woman who's in medical school during her internship and talking about how her job takes up so much of her time she doesn't have time for a relationship or family. Duh.

May. 21 2009 09:54 AM

I think that the women's movement still isn't over. Women have broken into the workplace, but men haven't broken into the home. Women are now responsible for making an income and taking care of all the duties of a housewife. That is why they might be unhappy. When men and women share responsibilities in all aspects of life, then women will feel the advantage of all we've been fighting for. Then women will be able to be happy.

May. 21 2009 07:28 AM

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