So Maddy has found that women\’s self-reported happiness or satisfaction with life has been declining while that of men has remained reasonably stable.
She\’s thrashing around trying to find a reason for this.
But we know the reason. It\’s called the Paradox of Choice: or, if you prefer, a manifestation of opportunity costs.
The choices available to women have expanded hugely in the last few decades (to pretty much the level that men have enjoyed for longer): that\’s why self-reported happiness has declined. For if you have more choices then there are more things not only that you can do but more things which you cannot, for you are already doing those things which you have chosen to do.
You thus rue those paths not taken, feel that you\’re missing out because you decided to become an accountant rather than a solicitor, took the holiday to Barbados while Cypurs also sounded like fun.
There\’s no mystery here at all: yes, it really is true, more choice will lower reported levels of satisfaction.
And no, that doesn\’t mean that we should deliberately reduce choice so as to increase satisfaction: remember what you would really be saying to women if that is what you did say.
No dear, you can\’t have the chance to be an accountant or a solicitor: you know it would only make you unhappy……