Thursday, July 24, 2014

Australian women less happy

Government data has revealed that life satisfaction is declining amongst Australian women.

Jenny Ulichny, a university researcher, expected the reverse to be true:
“These results are surprising,” she says. “In most westernised democratic countries, females have made significant strides in terms of social changes towards equality over the previous two generations. It would be reasonable to expect these changes to increase female wellbeing and happiness.”

You'd be a bit disappointed if you were a feminist, wouldn't you? After many decades of social change to implement your philosophy, women are not only not becoming happier, they are feeling worse off.

It's hardly surprising. Feminism is one strand of a modernity that is dissolving traditional relationships, including those of family, community and nation. In their place is supposed to be the self-authoring, free to choose individual, but what that means in practice is a focus on people being self-made in the market, i.e. through careers.

For a few women in high status, creative careers that might seem a good trade off, but for a lot of women it will just mean a daily grind at work.

Jenny Ulichny thinks that the problem has to do with social connectedness:
Australian men and women are saying that they see friends and loved ones less frequently and are participating less and less in community-based events and hobbies.

That could be because of the increasing demands of paid work, or it could have to do with the "hunkering down" effect that Professor Putnam has identified in more diverse societies.

Whatever the cause, this is more evidence that feminism in particular, and modernity in general, are not progressive but are connected to decline - in this case to a decline in women's sense of well-being.


  1. You can't make any serious conclusions from such studies. There is no explanation of methodology or how they derive their conclusions. However from general observation of society, the lack of connectedness which you cite as a factor in creating unhappiness is almost certainly caused by the collapse of intergenerational family ties. The traditional family is a people connected by blood and shared history over the generations. The modern family is no longer a family but a random coupling with offspring. Often linked by little more than happenstance and emotion, the modern family members have so little in common with each other and their relatives that the result is social distance.

    Diversity in society is undoubtedly a major cause of social collapse and lack of trust but diversity within families has the same effect.

    1. Well, you're right that you have to be careful about studies and their methodology. I'll say in favour of this one, though, that it uses HILDA data, which is the large scale, official data set.

  2. "Equality" doesn't make you happy? Go figure. It was and remains obvious that women don't actually want equality, and this is further proof that you should never listen to what women say they want.

    Want to be happy? Get married and have some babies already. At the very least you'll be too damn busy to brood and whine about your happiness or lack thereof.

  3. Men want women to be women. Feminists want women to act like men. Imagine pre-historic times, when feminists tried to promote gender equality and neutrality. "Women should hunt along with men!" Unlikely that would have made women happy.

  4. Have you read "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness"? (in the American Economic Journal--easy to find copies online.)

    The authors' reasoning is often very silly, but it gives an overview of the US General Social Survey data showing a that the self-reported happiness of women has declined since 1970.

    1. I haven't read it but I remember commentary on it when it came out.

  5. As a straight white male (apparently privileged) I've dropped out of volunteering with charities and other organizations. My father got me very much involved until I noticed a couple of things:
    1. Being white and male meant that my contribution was expected, as in it was my DUTY, so I wasn't thanked for my help much if at all whereas all of the women volunteering were constantly praised for their wonderful contributions, even just for showing up!
    2. I was always given the dirty or heavy lifting jobs out the back whilst the women were front and centre in the public view. I even had a senior member of the organisation, when she met me for the umpteenth time, tell me how good it was to see new faces (referring to me). I pointed out I'd 'been there' for over three years. Stunned silence followed. I tried to push to shift duties so that I was more in the public view but had little success, so I gave up.

    My father, being very community minded, reminded me that volunteering isn't always about recognition and that a person shouldn't do something to be recognized, but he belonged to an organisation where everybody knew everyone's name, even if you didn't see them all the time. To be mistaken for a new-comer after years of tireless effort whilst seeing young ambitious women take all the glory and seeing new male recruits shunted to the backrooms was enough to show me there would be no point continuing.

    1. Anon, it's interesting that as a white male you're told endlessly that you're privileged, but it's my own experience (and your own it seems) that in reality you are just expected to tirelessly plug away in the background - people assume that that's just what you do.