Women more miserable than men . . . until most men not around any more

Study finds women get happier in retirement before overtaking men in their 80s


Good news for women – they are, on average, happier than men at one stage of their lives.

Bad news for women – that phase doesn’t arrive until they are 85 years of age.

A new study has found that most women are more miserable than men for almost their entire lives.

According to the latest Health Survey for England, which involved a study of 8,000 people – the findings of which can be used by the British government to plan health policy and services – women are not as happy as men until they are in their mid 80s.

In Ireland, CSO figures for 2016 show the life expectancy for men is 79.6 years; for women it is 83.4. With their life expectancy a couple of years shy of that magic 85 number, women here may not even live long enough to be happier than men.

Not that it is a competition, of course.

Women get progressively happier in retirement before overtaking men in their ninth decade, the survey found. For many women that may look like a long time to wait.

Consistent unhappiness dogs women in greater numbers than men at almost every age, the health survey found. Twenty-eight per cent of women aged 16 to 24 reported mental health problems bad enough to count as a disorder, compared with 16 per cent of men. While the gender gap narrows between the ages of 25 and 34, women become unhappier as they enter middle age.

Women might be more miserable than men because they “are still more likely to bear the brunt of domestic and caring responsibilities,” commented Kate Lovett, dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London.

This burden may lessen in old age when women are no longer largely responsible for the care of children and elderly parents at the same time, she said.

“Men who are single, widowed or divorced are more vulnerable to developing depression and men who are in this age bracket may be more likely to be on their own. Paradoxically, married women are often more likely to develop depression,” Dr Lovett said.