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Why are Women Getting Sicker and Sadder?

Posted by: Michelle Conlin on May 26, 2009

Recently I wrote a story about how all the happiness and life satisfaction research is showing that as women age, they become sicker and sadder. I noted this after writing about the alarming uptick in suicides among middle-aged women.

It was a breakfast last fall at the St. Regis Hotel with thinker Marcus Buckingham that got me thinking about all of this. Buckingham’s new book, Find Your Strongest Life, is due out this fall and addresess this very subject.

Sociologists are finding that once women hit their 40s, contemporary life becomes slippery. This is black ice few seemed to be talking about—or even aware of.

Until recently. Today the New York Times’ new conservative columnist, Ross Douthat, writes about the same trend in Liberated and Unhappy.

His piece is off the news of a new research paper called The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness. The Week and The Gaurdian are also weighing in.

My question: how does this square with the fact that, by nearly ever measure, men are becoming the second sex?

Reader Comments


June 5, 2009 10:53 AM

As women become more educated, work in an expanded global marketplace, take on more responsibility at work, maintain responsibility for home (regardless of what Mr. Douthat says), and raise children by themselves whether as a result of divorce or other reasons, we are becoming more self-aware,more aware of the choices we make and of those made for us by governments and other institutions. This increase in awareness, I believe, may be what contributes to the sadness that middle aged women are experiencing. Given that middle age is the time for increased reflection, this does not seem so surprising. The benefit of this study is that women may begin talking to each other about this, and who knows, we may begin to empower ourselves and each other to make changes in the existing structures that can contribute to the betterment of all our lives.

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