A new US/UK study argues that younger women are happier than younger men and older men are happier than older women:
later in life…men come closer than women to fulfilling their material goods and family life aspirations, are more satisfied with their financial situation and family life, and are the happier of the two genders.
This seems dubious to me. Most of the older women I know are really frickin’ happy. They’ve shed their “good girl” conditioning, they don’t care as much if they look perfect, and they often have this sort of second lease on life attitude where they try new careers, new places to live, even new partners.
A lot of the older men I know, on the other hand, seem to really struggle when they retire (if they’re so lucky) and have to form an identity that’s not work-based. I’ve watched my own dad struggle with this new stage of life. As much as he is enjoying laying on a hammock, reading, taking classes, learning how to cook, he’s also really struggled to make meaning out of his new existence. For those who aren’t lucky enough to retire, it seems like the work grind can get really, really boring after 40-odd years. In workplaces with age discrimination, these guys can feel pretty pushed out.
And I’m not sure what to make of the younger women being happier part of the argument. I see my friends as pretty equally happy and unhappy, regardless of the gender.