RSS
Women, feminism, and happiness
Why happiness is declining for liberated women

“American women are wealthier, healthier, and better educated than they were 30 years ago,” said Ross Douthat in The New York Times, but they’re also more unhappy. "Feminists and traditionalists" can disagree on the reasons for what economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, in a new study, call "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness." But surely conservatives and liberals alike ought to see that making it easier for mothers to balance work and child-rearing will help.

Happiness surveys don't exactly find that women are "descending into the black pits of despair," said Sady Doyle in Britain's The Guardian. The Stevenson and Wolfers study shows that men and women now report "similar levels of happiness," which just means "we're not done yet." When we are, we won't measure happiness by gender—"we'll all just be people."

It's silly not to acknowledge that the rise of single motherhood has created challenges that must be addressed, said Cathy Young in The Boston Globe. "No one wants to go back to the day when unwed mothers and their children were outcasts." But married two-parent families work best for kids, women, and men, so "restoring a cultural commitment to married parenting" should be a goal that unites everybody, from "sensible conservatives" to "reasonable feminists."

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week