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The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness

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  • Stevenson, Betsey
  • Wolfers, Justin

Abstract

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.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7311.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7311

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Related research

Keywords: gender; happiness; job satisfaction; life satisfaction; subjective well-being; women's movement;

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References

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  1. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006, 08.
  2. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 6144, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. Alan B. Krueger, 2007. "Are We Having More Fun Yet? Categorizing and Evaluating Changes in Time Alloction," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(2), pages 193-218.
  5. Adam Isen & Betsey Stevenson, 2010. "Women’s Education and Family Behavior: Trends in Marriage, Divorce and Fertility," NBER Chapters, in: Demography and the Economy, pages 107-140 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2005. "Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980-2000," NBER Working Papers 11230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
  8. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
  9. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U. S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2095, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Happiness Inequality in the United States," NBER Working Papers 14220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 133-156, Fall.
  12. Justina A.V. Fischer & Christian Bjornskov & Axel Dreher, 2007. "On Gender Inequality and Life Satisfaction: Does Discrimination Matter?," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2007, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen 2007-07, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  13. Francine D. Blau, 1998. "Trends in the Well-Being of American Women, 1970-1995," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 112-165, March.
  14. Angus Deaton, 2008. "Income, Health, and Well-Being around the World: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 53-72, Spring.
  15. Silvia Pezzini, 2005. "The Effect of Women's Rights on Women's Welfare: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages C208-C227, 03.
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  1. Is ignorance bliss?
    by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2011-02-28 20:23:00
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  1. The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness (AEJ:EP 2009) in ReplicationWiki

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