Modern times seem to be riddled with growing gaps - the income gap, the achievement gap, the tolerance-of-celebrity-gossip gap. Now here's another one to worry about, according to today's New York Times: the growing happiness gap between men and women.
Two new research papers arrive at this conclusion. One tracked traditional happiness data by asking people how satisfied they are with their lives. It found that women, who in the early 1970s reported being slightly happier than men, are now slightly less happy.
The other analyzed time-use studies over the past four decades to determine how much time men and women spent doing things they found unpleasant. Since the 1960s, men have gradually cut back on tasks they dislike. They now work less and relax more.
Meanwhile, women have replaced housework with paid work (or not replaced as much as added onto), and as a result are spending more time doing things they don't enjoy.
The obvious explanation would seem to be the old "second shift" theory, that women just added their jobs onto their already long and laundry-filled to-do lists. But, according to the Times, this overlooks the fact that women aren't actually working more today than they were 30 or 40 years ago - they're just spending more time on paid work and less on cooking and cleaning.
(In the index, both men and women seemed to dread their jobs. They ranked time at the office above only trips to the doctor and washing dishes in terms of enjoyment. Both would much rather cook or do laundry.)
But the gender happiness gap appears long before working life. As "life has generally gotten better over the last generation" -- the Times boldly asserts, using "less crime, longer-living grandparents and much cooler gadgets" as evidence - male high school seniors have gotten happier. About 25 percent say they are satisfied with their lives, up 16 percent from 1976. Meanwhile, only 22 percent of their female peers say they're happy, about the same in the 70s.
I would posit this may have something to do with how dismally bad men's fashion was in 1976. But the experts who talked to the Times chalk it up to the "hottie theory" - the pressure for high school girls to be hot above all else. Back in the 70s, that's all you had to be. Now you have to be a Harvard-bound, track star, volunteering-at-the-homeless-shelter-on-weekends hottie. That's enough to bum anyone out.
The Clintons' Connection To A Deal Gone Bad
The Wall Street Journal has a labyrinthine tale of how Italian businessman Raffaello Follieri, better known to most of the world as actress Anne Hathaway's boyfriend, used his connections to Bill Clinton's top aide to get introduced to an investor who is now suing him.
At the center of the story is Douglas Band, a 34-year-old former White House intern who once escorted Monica Lewinsky to a ball "at her request" and who remains Bill Clinton's right-hand man.
Two years ago, Band befriended the "handsome and charming" Follieri, who had moved to New York to launch a business buying and redeveloping all the properties that the Catholic Church had to sell to pay off its debts from sex abuse law suits.
Follieri claimed he could help Sen. Hillary Clinton with Catholic voters during her presidential campaign. And, oh yes, and he was also looking for investors.
Band acted as a "gatekeeper to the former president's web of business and charitable enterprises" for Follieri. Clinton even went into business with him. In 2005, Yucaipa Cos., a Los Angeles firm where Clinton has been a partner, agreed to invest $100 million in Follieri's church property development business.
There were lots of other Clinton-related deals for Follieri, but lately the Clinton-Follieri relations are "in tatters."
Yucaipa managing partner Rob Burkle, Clinton's close friend, has sued Follieri for allegedly misappropriating $1.3 million. The suit claims the charming Italian used Yupaica's investment to fund a lavish lifestyle that included "a Manhattan penthouse, five-star meals and private jets for Mr. Follieri and his girlfriend, actress Anne Hathaway."
The story's an interesting look at how money, celebrity and power function, but perhaps more interesting (and telling about the Journal's new owner) is its timing. The time peg appears to be the fact that heads of state, business leaders and other notables are gathering in New York today for the annual meeting of Bubba's do-gooder powerhouse, The Clinton Global Initiative.
The Clinton camp has denied doing anything more than listening politely to Follieri's promises of help with the Catholic vote. Nevertheless, the story dredges up some old ghosts - Monica not the least among them - that no doubt the Clintons would just as soon forget.
Twice As Much To Be Spent On TV Ads This Primary Campaign As Last One
And speaking of millions and Clintons,USA Today reports that candidates, political parties and interest groups will spend at least twice as much on TV ads than they did in the last presidential election before the nominees are chosen.
A record $100 million or more will be likely paid to put candidates and their messages on the air before February, analysts expect. That's so much more than the $45 million spent during the 2003-04 primary race because this campaign is so much more competitive.
Back then, nobody was challenging President Bush for the Republican nomination. This time, both fields are crowded. Plus, there's the Romney factor - Republican Mitt Romney's campaign has spent $7.4 million so far to run ads, by far the most of any candidate.
But spending doesn't always help. Sen. Chris Dodd has spent $900,000 on ads and has not budged from low single digits in Iowa and New Hampshire surveys.
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