Why Men are Happier Than Women
Let’s have a word about women and men. Or, rather, the happiness gap that is continually widening between them. A simple search engine query on women’s declining happiness (which will auto fill on Google) tells the story. Suffice it to say that the studies out paint a picture with Normal Rockwell clarity and realism. By every known measure we have, women have grown increasingly miserable.
In a study by Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, we have an executive summary which reads as follows:
“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.”
Now imagine that. Women were happier 50 years ago than they are today measured both independently and relative to men. There’s a gender happiness gap that favors men, and it is widening as time goes by.
Gee, what on earth happened during that time that could be responsible for that?
Let’s consider some things that have happened over the past half-century that one could reasonably expect to enhance women’s happiness. During that time, women have achieved nearly everything that the women’s movement purported to help women attain. Women now greatly outnumber men in higher education. Consequently, their presence in the workplace in most fields has increased dramatically, along with their opportunities for the same.
Women have gained almost complete mastery of their reproductive lives, with an abundance of birth control options, the availability and legality of abortion when wanted, and the ability to chase men to the ends of the earth for child support, even when the man shelling out the money isn’t the father. All this has transpired in a political climate that makes women’s issues and women themselves sacrosanct — above question for anyone who knows what’s good for them.
Women are now the very heart of consumer culture. As of 2012, women hold 60 percent of all personal wealth and 51% of stocks. Those numbers have almost certainly grown since then.
We can look at modern advertising and see the virtual groveling of advertisers before the alter of femininity. The idiot male who needs a woman’s advice to deal with a cold or a headache has become the expected norm for peddling over-the-counter medicines and the same theme has found its way into countless other consumer products.
And yet women are miserable and getting more so as time goes by. Don’t argue with me about it, I’ve provided you the research that confirms it.
During the same period time that women have sunk into an apparently inexplicable abyss of personal suffering, men have become happier relative to women.
For some reason, while men have been dropping like flies from higher education and the workplace; while they have been increasingly demonized and ostracized by academia, the political sphere and indeed by women as a group, they’ve gotten happier.
Even as we claim victory for women in breaking through alleged workplace and educational barriers, the statistic of 93% of workplace deaths being male hasn’t changed a fraction. Men are still the primary occupants of death professions and dangerous work. They are still the ones in coal mines, crab boats and combat. The triple alliteration is free as a courtesy to you, dear reader.
Men are still dying more often of the top 10 causes of death. They are still the ones who overwhelmingly lose custody disputes in family court, and when it comes to suicide, they still kill themselves at four times the rate of women.
Suicides aside, though, the men who don’t kill themselves tend to be a lot happier than women.
I suppose this would make a lot of people scratch their heads, wondering how this could possibly be. How could women, whose lives have improved by nearly every measure society employs, see their general sense of happiness diminish?
Indeed, as you can see above in this chart from the Stevenson/Wolfers study, in 1975 women reported more happiness and well-being than men in 1975. That comparative did a complete flip in the 30 years that elapsed since.
But if you are looking for cogent speculation as to why this happened, Stevenson and Wolfers won’t be of much help. In the discussion section of their study, they speculate pretty wildly about what might be driving the shift. Sorting through the word salad that was intended to carry their guesses, we see them point to things like the “…interpretability of subjective well-being data analyzed over long-time periods,” which is to say that they don’t know if they can reliably interpret their own research.
They list other factors, though they probably shouldn’t have, trying to take a stab at the sex-based conundrum:
“First, there may be other important socio-economic forces that have made women worse off. A number of important macro trends have been documented—decreased social cohesion (Putnam, 2000), increased anxiety and neuroticism (Twenge, 2000), and increased household risk (Hacker, 2006). While each of these trends have impacted both men and women, it is possible for even apparently gender-neutral trends to have gender-biased impacts if men and women respond differently to these forces.”
OK, let’s see. “it is possible for even apparently gender-neutral trends to have gender-biased impacts if men and women respond differently to these forces.” Oh ya, we all know this. Problem hits everyone. Women more affected.
Aren’t they always?
Being an Occam’s Razor guy, though, I want to point to what I think are more obvious explanations, even if they are the kind of explanations from which a lot of people would prefer to be shielded.
One, a massive social upheaval happened in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. It was called feminism, and as the data points out, women have seen their happiness and well-being degraded ever since.
Part of the problem is that feminism brought with it the infernally stupid idea that work is power. It is probably the stupidest idea in human history to ever gain traction. The idea, though, was so attractive to professionally inexperienced women that they jumped on it with visions of corner offices, skyline views and massive paychecks dancing in their heads like dreams of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
What they found when reality reared its ugly head was that getting to that corner office meant a life of unremitting sacrifice and constant, crushing burdens. They also found that for every woman who was willing to trade most of life’s pleasures and freedoms for a corner office, there were more men. A lot more men. The math on that is devastating.
Corporate CEOs, professional politicians and other arenas of alleged power are still dominated by men because it is overwhelmingly men who are willing and capable of the sacrifice. You don’t have to like that, especially if you’re a woman, but covering your eyes and ears and making believe it isn’t true won’t do anything for you but increase your already documented misery.
That reality might be enough to make a woman unhappy. And so too might life in a cubical with bags under your eyes and children acting out over your absence from their lives.
Oh yeah, you’ve come a long way, baby.
Speaking of that, there’s another I think plausible matter that might be worth injecting into this grand inquiry. Back in 1975, when women were a good bit happier. More of them were getting married. The same is true for men, who were less happy then than they are now.
Now think about that for a moment. When more women were married, they were happier than men. Now that less men are married, they are happier than women.
I am tempted to at this point to give you 30 seconds of the Jeopardy Theme to allow you to ponder what that is saying.
Look, to me this isn’t rocket science. Feminism took women out of secure, supportive homes, where they generally tended to be happy, and put them on the fast track to the professional middle. It created a wide gulf between men and women that has ironically also gutted a lot of men’s chivalrous tendencies. In short, ladies, if you have a flat tire on the side of the freeway, a lot more men are going to drive past you without even slowing down.
Women went from being mothers to just another customer at the day care center. They went from cherished wives to untrusted, potential threats in the lives of men. The promised reward for all these unintentional consequences utterly failed to materialize.
Who the hell wouldn’t be unhappy?
And men? Hell, we’re doing fine with happiness. I mean, sure, we have a lot of problems that need sorting out. Plenty of them. But our one saving grace is that most of the things that make men unhappy can be avoided by avoiding women.
I know how harsh that sounds. But hey, pop a couple of red pills. It takes the harsh off quite nicely.