Why Aren’t Women Happier?

In just about every country in the world, women are living longer than men.  They face a whole host of challenges such as greater levels of poverty,higher chances of encountering violence both physical and sexual.  There are also lots more subtle sorts of discrimination which can severely effect women’s lives in all sorts of specific ways.

So although life expectancy is higher, it seems that women’s well being is not improving in the same way. Although there are increases in political, social and economic freedoms this doesn’t seem to be matched by an improvement in a general feeling of contentment.

It seems counter intuitive, that the more women’s lives improve then the less content they seem.  It has been analysed in a few studies over the years, the way that women’s happiness doesn’t seem to increase when other external factors improve.   In contrast men’s happiness doesn’t seem to fluctuate as much and overall seem to be happier with their lives.


So why is this? Evidence supports the idea that women’s rights and roles in the home in the US and Europe have not moved in step with changes in the workplace. Therefore, because women with jobs often do most of the chores and childcare, they shoulder a dual burden that cuts into their sleep and fun. Long commutes are thought to make British women more miserable than British men because of the greater pressure on women to meet responsibilities at home as well as work.

Expectations also lie behind the curious finding that performing household chores makes men statistically less likely to become depressed but contributes to depression in women. Taking on housework seems to encourage men to judge themselves as generally likeable, fair-minded dudes, kindly reducing their wives’ load. On the other hand, taking on housework seems to make women feel exploited.

The social history of Switzerland, where women weren’t allowed to vote until 1971, reveals the subtleties of employment expectations on happiness. A decade after Swiss women gained suffrage, the country’s citizens voted in a referendum on whether the constitution should be amended to state that women deserve equal pay for equal work.

Further Reading:

John Williams, English IP Address