Wolfers, Ehrenreich, Misery, and Feminism
By Bryan Caplan
Some remarkable features of the Ehrenreich-Wolfers exchange:
1. Ehrenreich should be happy to learn that women were not brain-washed by positive thinking propaganda. But she’s not.
2. A woman as miserable as Ehrenreich should have no trouble accepting the finding that women have grown less happy. But she manages to see Stevenson and Wolfers’ work as yet another thing to be unhappy about.
3. Wolfers claims to have at one point “admired” Ehrenreich. Puzzling.
4. Wolfers is surprised that Ehrenreich doesn’t live up to the standards of academic social science. Doubly puzzling.
5. Ehrenreich eagerly quotes Stevenson and Wolfers assurance that feminism was not the cause of declining female happiness. But this still leaves two elephants in the room. First, women were reasonably happy before feminism came along. Second, feminism failed to make women any happier than they were before. If I were a feminist, both facts would make me pretty miserable.
6. The greatest tragedy of this exchange: After Ehrenreich’s assures us that Stevenson-Wolfers’ research “doesn’t pass the giggle test,” she spends over 1200 words proving it. Isn’t the whole point of the giggle test to bypass the need for wordy argument?