quakeroats wrote:I should note, however, that there is one exception. The United States has gotten wealthier over the last 40 years and we haven't gotten any happier on average.
I'm curious what you think has caused this?
I have a few theories, but here are a few from the article:
We have several theories. There may be large-scale social trends that we don't think of as being gendered that might have disproportionately made women less satisfied with their lives. Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone talked about the phenomenon of decreasing social cohesion. It is possible a social trend like that could be having an impact.
It also could be women's changed expectations. There are two ways of thinking about this. One is simply that women expect a lot today and their expectations have moved faster than society has been able to deliver, and so we have a bigger gap between expectations and what society is actually delivering. Women may have expected to be sexually harassed in the 1970s, and they got sexually harassed, so there wasn't an expectations gap. Today, women may expect to not be sexually harassed and yet sexual harassment still occurs — at a lower rate than in the 1970s, but it definitely still occurs — and so there might actually be more dissatisfaction today, simply because the expectations moved more sharply than the actual members of society could change their behavior.
Another way to think about it is that women might be expecting themselves to succeed in many different domains, and it is simply harder to have a truly blissful life in many, many domains. An MBA student told me her mother's idea of the perfect life was having children who are thriving and her home and garden well kept. Her mom always considered herself happy. The student added, I still want my children to thrive, and I still want to have a nice home and garden, but I also want to make a broader contribution to society. I want to have a career with work that's meaningful. To be really happy, I need to be thriving in all those dimensions, and that's just harder to achieve.