Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Women, trying to be like men?

I am not sure I buy into this all that much, but I couldn't resist posting this graph that I ran into on an article in the New York Times.

I am too tired to read the paper right now, but I suspect this paper on the subject would make for an interesting read. This is the sort of thing that will be debated for ages though and I doubt people will ever agree.

By most 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 male happiness. The paradox of women’s declining relative well-being is found examining multiple countries, datasets, and measures of subjective well-being, and is pervasive across demographic groups. 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. Our findings raise provocative questions about the contribution of the women’s movement to women’s welfare and about the legitimacy of using subjective well-being to assess broad social changes.

...if happiness is assessed relative to outcomes for one’s reference group then greater equality may have led women to compare their outcomes to those of the men around them. In turn, women might find their relative position lower than when their reference group included only women. An alternative form of reference-dependent preferences relates well-being to whether or not expectations are met. If 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...

...the relative decline in women’s well-being is ubiquitous, and holds for both working and stay-at-home moms, for those married and divorced, for the old and the young, and across the education distribution...

1 comment:

amethyst said...

This could also have something to do with the affects of aggressive advertising campaigns on the average woman's self image. I would hesitate to put all the blame on our attempts to be more like men... it's obviously a complicated issue.