AbstractProfound changes in gender roles have taken place over the past several decades in the United States. Women’s roles have changed most: women are marrying later in life and at lower rates, having fewer children, and working more outside of the household. “Career women” are the new normal and housewifery has gone out of fashion. At the same time, women have become less happy. We use the US General Social Surveys from 1972 to 2014 to explore these latest trends. We find that, until recently, women are happier to be housewives or to work part-time than full-time, especially, women who are older, married, with children, in middle or upper class, and living in suburbs or smaller places. The effect size of housewifery on subjective wellbeing (SWB) is mild to moderate, at about a fourth to a third of the effect of being unemployed. Therefore, we argue that one possible reason for the decline in average happiness for women was increased labor force participation. Yet, the happiness advantage of housewifery is declining among younger cohorts and career women may become happier than housewives in the future.
SubjectsSubjective wellbeing (SWB), Happiness, Life satisfaction, Gender, Gender roles, Female labor force participation
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