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Frowny Face: Women Are Way More Bummed Than We Were Thirty Years Ago

A new study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research and the University of Pennsylvania and presented by economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, shows that both sex’s happiness levels have decreased over the past few decades, but women’s “subjective well-being” has declined “absolutely” and in relation to men. This is only a big deal because the same study was done in the 1970s and women reported higher levels of happiness than they do today! Is it because they were stoned out of their minds? Is it because feminism never really worked out? The research study didn’t come up with any conclusions but had loads of hypotheses…but not as many that have come up since it was released last month! Read on to hear the theories.

  • New York Times columnist Ross Douthat offered his opinion on the study, “The achievements of the feminist era may have delivered women to greater unhappiness.” He also believes that the de-stigmatization of single motherhood “threatens the interests and happiness of women.” He also wondered if women, who “prefer egalitarian, low-risk societies,” were made anxious by “the cowboy capitalism of the Reagan era.”
  • One of the most provocative theories raised in the study were that the “the women’s movement raised women’s expectations faster than society was able to meet them, they would be more likely to be disappointed by their actual experienced lives. As women’s expectations move into alignment with their experiences, this decline in happiness may reverse,” i.e. it’s impossible to actually “have it all” so chill out and enjoy what you have.
  • The second most talked about statement was, “[When] we disaggregate the fertility results to consider trends in happiness separately among single parents and married parents … we see similar trends in happiness … casting doubt on the hypothesis that trends in marriage and divorce, single parenthood or work/family balance are at the root of the happiness declines among women,” i.e. working mothers, and especially single working mothers are increasingly common and the demands are overwhelming. Um duh.
  • Los Angeles Times writer Meghan Daum has her own theory, “I immediately had a scapegoat too: Angelina Jolie. Her entire Oscar-winning, serial-adopting, Brad Pitt-snagging, plane-piloting, unattainably hot-looking existence makes women around the world feel hopelessly inadequate and therefore unhappy.”
  • My theory: I feel like the 1970s were more fun because everything seemed new and hopeful, flattering bell-bottoms and baseball tees were in style, and free-love was still um…free sans the fear (or knowledge) of AIDS and other sexually transmitted dangers. Why do you think we’re unhappy? Are we unhappy? Can’t we just cheer up ladies?! There’s a whole Lifetime Movie Network now! Oh wait, maybe that’s why we’re depressed?
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