This is puzzling, because there can be no doubt that since the 70s women’s real freedom has increased hugely. They have more and better educational and job opportunities, better control over their fertility, are more able to flee bad partnerships and - thanks to technical progress - can spend less time on household chores.
Greater freedom, though, has not brought greater happiness.
This is not just true of American women. Richard Easterlin estimates that the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe led to a fall in happiness there.
But how can greater freedom reduce well-being? Work (pdf) by Christopher Hsee and Dan Haybron might explain how. People, they say, systematically make bad choices. For example, we fail to anticipate that we’ll adapt to new circumstances, and so over-estimate the effect a pay rise will have on our well-being; we put more emphasis upon quantifiable than unquantifiable things, and so over-rate the importance of money relative to friendship. And so on.
All this should be deeply worrying for utilitarian libertarians; it suggests freedom doesn’t improve well-being.
But this consequentialist argument is perhaps not the principal one for freedom. Instead, perhaps liberty is an intrinsic good - a recognition that my life is mine, not anyone else’s.