According to this Scientific American article “It’s Getting Better All The Time:” after age 50, “people” are happier, more satisfied, and easier-going
regardless of whether individuals were employed, had young children at home or lived with a partner.
Except that women don’t really have the same experience. Compared to men, they reported more “overall sadness, stress and worry” in every age bracket.
I heard about it in this exact same way on the evening news, too. “PEOPLE GET HAPPIER AS THEY AGE! YAY! But not women. (Whoops! Sorry, laydeez.)”
It’s not the study that’s the problem. It’s the media framing of it, using “people” to mean, well, “people,” and then moving the language goal-posts to qualify it as “male people” (of a certain demographic profile). Women get subsumed, or absented.
And here’s my favorite part. Women, who report greater levels of sadness and worry, actually seem to have a higher rate of “well-being.” Since this doesn’t equate to “happiness” (which gets back to the discussion we had the other week: what the hell is happiness, anyway?), the reporter throws in this little nugget:
Stone and his team noted that the findings fit in with proposals that “older people are more effective at regulating their emotions than younger adults” and that older adults tend to “recall fewer negative memories than younger adults.”
Ah-ha! Women are less effective at regulating their emotions than men! It all makes sense now! All those assholes on the internet were right! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sob myself into a coma.
The full study will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.