An interesting paper was published recently that outlines what appears to be a long trend tracking alongside many female advancements: a decline in overall female happiness. The whole paper can be read here but I will extract the salient point:
By most objective measures the lives of women in the United States have improved dramatically over the past 35 years. Moreover, women believe that their lives are better; in recent polls asking about changes in the status of women over the past 25 or 50 years, around four in five adults state that the overall status of women in the U.S. has gotten better (and the remaining respondents break two-for-one towards “stayed the same” over “worse”). Additionally, the 1999 Virginia Slims Poll found that 72% of women believe that “women having more choices in society today gives women more opportunities to be happy” while only 39% thought that having more choices “makes life more complicated for women.” Finally, women today are more likely than men to believe that their opportunities to succeed exceed those of their parents.
Yet trends in self-reported subjective well-being indicate that women are less happy today than they were in the 1970s. This finding of a decline in women’s well-being, both absolutely and relatively to that of men, raises questions about whether modern social constructs have made women worse off, or alternatively about the interpretability of subjective well-being data analyzed over long-time periods. In 1974, Richard Easterlin pointed to a related puzzle—as countries got wealthier there was little evidence that their populations got happier, despite the existence of a robust relationship between income and well-being in both individual data and across countries.
The panacea that Feminism promised, while being socially rewarding for some, has not manifested itself in an increase in female happiness, but rather, a decline. Men and women are different, despite what the social engineers that tell us otherwise. Men and women have complementary roles and dispositions yet the egalitarians will continue to experiment with the lives of women until their relative happiness pales in comparison to what it once was. It has almost become axiomatic that if an academic posits great improvements through radical changes, they have generally been proven wrong over time. Let this decline in female happiness serve as Exhibit A.