Enjoy Wellness

An Economist Weighs In On Being A Woman

Haley Paskalides  |  April 23, 2024

Women are happier overall, but sadder in our day-to-day lives than men. Betsey Stevenson unpacks what’s going on.

A recent essay in the Wall Street Journal made the case that women are both happier — but also overall sadder — in our daily lives than men are. Why? We’re juggling countless competing priorities on our never-ending to-do lists, including managing our jobs, wrangling our kids’ schedules, and keeping up with everything at home. Betsey Stevenson, economist and professor at the University of Michigan, has conducted groundbreaking research in this field, and she joins us to unpack all the data — including numbers from the CDC that back this up. They recently reported that more women than ever before are on antidepressants, and the number is highest for middle-aged women. 

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But what’s contributing to this? Is it the burden of being the primary caregivers while also working full time or does it have to do with economic factors outside of our control or is it a little bit of everything?  Betsey Stevenson discusses why women’s happiness has been on the decline since the 1970s — despite so many great strides for women’s equality since then. And while we have her, we also do a mini-economic check-in for 2024. What’s really going on in America’s economy right now? 

LISTEN: The 2024 Economy and What’s Really Happening

There are a number of factors economists can track that contribute to overall higher life satisfaction such as higher salary, marital status, and having a large group of friends. “We know that women’s life satisfaction has remained quite high,” Betsey Stevenson says. “But there’s this other question, is it possible for our life satisfaction to be high while day to day we’re struggling with issues related to our mental health and our affect? And I think the answer is yes, of course, these things could be simultaneously happening.”

One way to make our day-to-day lives more enjoyable? Stevenson says to think back to what made a great day in preschool (seriously!) “You need people to treat you with respect, you need to have some control over how you spend your time, you need to be able to learn something interesting, you need to be able to do something creative, and you need to eat good-tasting food,” Stevenson says. “These are the fundamental building blocks of a good life.”


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All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

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