Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Two Studies in (Un)Happiness

I read an article in the New York Times business section today with great sadness. The subject: Happiness.

Columnist David Leonhardt examined a couple of recent studies which attempted to gauge the level of happiness among American adults and wrote, “. . . [T]here appears to be a growing happiness gap between men and women.”

The reasons the various researchers offered for this were intriguing.

Saying that since the 1960s women have piled their paid work responsibilities on top of housework and handling many items on the domestic front, Leonhardt wrote, “Forty years ago, a typical woman spent about 23 hours a week in an activity considered unpleasant, or 40 more minutes than a typical man. Today, with men working less, the gap is 90 minutes.” He added, “But researchers who have looked at time-use data say the second-shift [women with two jobs, one at home, one at work] theory misses an important detail. Women are not actually working more than they were 30 or 40 years ago. They are instead doing different kinds of work. They’re spending more time on paid work and less on cleaning and cooking.”

Apparently, according to the researchers, the reason women are unhappy is because they want too much. “What has changed – and what seems to be the most likely explanation for the happiness trends – is that women now have a much longer to-do list than they once did (including helping their aging parents),” Leonhardt wrote. “They can’t possibly get it all done, and many end up feeling as if they are somehow falling short.”

(Am I the only one nodding?)

Leonhardt paraphrased Betsey Stevenson, an economist from the University of Pennsylvania and author of one of the studies as saying, “A big reason that women reported being happier three decades ago – despite far more discrimination — is probably that they had narrower ambitions.” (Like simply desiring to keep their kids alive and putting dinner on the table?)

Sara Schaefer Munoz, who blogs for the Wall Street Journal read the same bleak Times article and asked: “So if women are indeed unhappier than men, what’s the answer? Would narrowing our ambitions, and our lives, really make us happier? Would more support, like universal childcare, paid leave for new parents, and husbands who do more at home bump up women’s happiness quotient?”

1 comment:

New Born Baby Zone said...

We need to consider two things for being happier and find personal fulfillment. Honesty and faith are those two things. We need faith to be honest and we need honesty to have faith. The two tend to go hand in hand, nevertheless, we will not have no problem feeling fulfillment in life if we can be true to ourself and be less selfish through faith.