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- Gen Z is facing a “national crisis,” according to social psychologist and NYU professor Jonathan Haidt.
- Haidt told the Wall Street Journal that Gen Z women are going to be less successful than Gen Z men.
- That’s partly because many Gen Z women are facing mental health challenges like anxiety.
That’s according to social psychologist, author, and NYU professor Jonathan Haidt, who said that while the gender gaps across some fields have improved in recent decades, they “might begin to widen in the 2030s.”
The reason: Millions of Gen Z women — many of whom Haidt says could be depressed, anxious, and less inclined to take risks — will be flooding into the workforce.
“Gen Z women, because they’re so anxious, are going to be less successful than Gen Z men,” he said.
Haidt was interviewed by journalist Tunku Varadarajan as part of a sweeping Wall Street Journal op-ed published December 30th. The interview touched on the “national crisis” of Gen Z, with a particular focus on the harms of social media and its impact on the younger generation’s declining mental health. According to Haidt, young women in particular are facing these challenges, which could hinder their career advancement and ultimately increase the gender pay gap in the decades ahead.
With the onset of social media — especially Instagram — depression rates skyrocketed, Haidt said. At the same time, Gen Zers were spending less actual time together, with childhood experienced “largely just through the phone.” Now, Haidt said, there has “never been a generation this depressed, anxious and fragile.”
There’s a similar problem in the UK and Canada, he said, and that the US’s “supply of young people who are not anxious or depressed will heavily depend on taking people who are not born in an English-speaking country.”
US women are still paid 17% less than men. Wage gaps are, however, smaller among younger workers. In 16 cities, Gen Z and younger millennial women actually outearn their male counterparts, according to a study of 16 to 29-year-olds from the Pew Research Center.
That’s not necessarily unusual: Richard Fry, the Pew report’s author, previously told Insider “there’s evidence that the pay gap tends to be narrowest early in women’s careers.”
However, as Pew notes, pay gaps can worsen as cohorts age. The Census Bureau finds that pay gaps got wider as women grew older, within an over $2,000 gap in monthly earnings between women and men ages 35 to 44.
There could be some factors pushing against that historical trend and the rising mental health concerns Haidt has raised. Soaring college enrollment and a higher likelihood of completing a degree among Gen Z women could potentially chip away at pay gaps widening or appearing later in their careers.
“Given the differences in their current labor market position, as well as their education levels relative to men, it may be indeed a different story for this group of young women,” Fry previously said.
At the same time, men without college degrees are dropping out of the workforce, in part because they see their lower-paying jobs as a blow to social status. According to a paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, many younger men facing down limited wage growth choose having no job over a low-paying one, which they see as a risk to marriage prospects and their social standing.