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American Economic Journal: Economic Policy: Vol. 1 No. 2 (August 2009)

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The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness

Article Citation

Stevenson, Betsey, and Justin Wolfers. 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 1(2): 190-225.

DOI: 10.1257/pol.1.2.190

Abstract

The lives of women in the United States have improved over the past 35 years by many objective measures, yet we show that measures of subjective well-being indicate that women's happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men. This decline in relative wellbeing is found across various datasets, measures of subjective wellbeing, demographic groups, and industrialized countries. Relative declines in female happiness have eroded a gender gap in happiness in which women in the 1970s reported higher subjective well-being than did men. These declines have continued and a new gender gap is emerging -- one with higher subjective well-being for men. (JEL I31, J16, J28)

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Authors

Stevenson, Betsey (U PA)
Wolfers, Justin (U PA)

JEL Classifications

I31: General Welfare
J16: Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
J28: Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy

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