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The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness

Author

Listed:
  • Betsey Stevenson
  • Justin Wolfers

Abstract

The lives of women in the United States have improved over the past 35 years by many objective measures, yet we show that measures of subjective well-being indicate that women's happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men. This decline in relative wellbeing is found across various datasets, measures of subjective wellbeing, demographic groups, and industrialized countries. Relative declines in female happiness have eroded a gender gap in happiness in which women in the 1970s 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. (JEL I31, J16, J28)

Suggested Citation

  • Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 190-225, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:1:y:2009:i:2:p:190-225
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.1.2.190
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy

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