The growing happiness gap between men and women

Ross Douthat, of the New York Times, has an interesting piece in today’s edition. Referring to a recent study on female happiness. He says the study shows that over the last few decades, “Male happiness has inched up, and female happiness has dropped.” 

Douthat says that some obvious explanations, such as the decline of the two-parent family, or the mounting female workload as women continue to do the lion’s share of household chores while also holding down a full-time job, don’t fully explain the trend.

Although single-parents tend to suffer more stress than other parents, he says rising female unhappiness cuts across cuts across lines of class and race. He says: “A working-class Hispanic woman is far more likely to be a single mother than her white and wealthy counterpart, yet the male-female happiness gap holds in [white, affluent] East Hampton and [poor, Hispanic] East L.A. alike”. 

He also says that the increase in women’s workload can’t explain the fact the new happiness gap either because “recent surveys actually show similar workload patterns for men and women over all”. 

He surmises that the problem could be political: “Maybe women prefer egalitarian, low-risk societies, and the cowboy capitalism of the Reagan era had an anxiety-inducing effect on the American female.” He answers in