Saturday, September 29, 2007

Men Happier than Women

Stone sends me this article, which talks about two research findings that show men are now happier than women, a reversal from the past.
Ms. Stevens was recently having drinks with a business school graduate
who came up with a nice way of summarizing the problem. Her mother’s goals in
life, the student said, were to have a beautiful garden, a well-kept house and
well-adjusted children who did well in school. “I sort of want all those things,
too,” the student said, as Ms. Stevenson recalled, “but I also want to have a
great career and have an impact on the broader world.”

I find the new happiness studies fascinating. With all the economic development in the world and higher means for so many, our happiness is nonetheless not doing nearly as well as it should. I see a couple things going on here for women. One is the unfortunate desire by so many to outdo others around them. Our happiness, it seems, is based more on how we compare to others than simply our own merits. I see this playing out with women, who increasingly are competing directly with men for jobs and material success. Now they are getting compared to role model mothers, the homemakers who tend the house and the kids, at the same time as they are compared at work to their male counterparts. These male counterparts don't face the home pressures, either, which only makes it harder for females to compete with them.

In a sense this desire by females to do so much is good. It's a reflection on women's entry into the broader economy and their being on a more equal plane with men. However the old ideas of what it means to be a woman mean that women feel like they have to do it all.

You can only do so much with your time. Given these extra constraints that men just don't have, it's no surprise women's happiness is dropping.

Here's an article about happiness classes at universities.


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