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Women’s Autonomy and Happiness: The Case of Pakistan


  • Syed Mubashir Ali

    (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad.)

  • Rizwan Ul Haq

    (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad.)


It is generally believed that “autonomy” brings happiness and satisfaction in women’s lives. In this study we examine whether or not the established autonomy indicators are a source of “happiness” for Pakistani women. By using the nationally representative data, only two indicators, i.e., “women’s education” and “decisionmaking authority”, prove to be important factors in finding “very happy” status in women’s life. Additionally, “possession of assets” also proves to be an important factor in providing the “very happy” status in a women’s life. However, the “possession and utilisation of assets” and “going alone outside the house” are not important indicators of a “very happy” status in women’s life in Pakistan and “Labour force participation” is indicative of unhappiness. The results of this study show that not all established indicators of autonomy bring about happiness in the lives of Pakistani women. This is because Pakistani society differs from other societies, in particular the western society, and hence the concept of “autonomy” in bringing about “happiness” in the lives of Pakistani women yields effects different from those in other societies. Thus, there is a need to focus on the advocacy of only those autonomy variables which lead to happiness in a woman’s life, which is the end-goal for women, who form a vital part of the society.

Suggested Citation

  • Syed Mubashir Ali & Rizwan Ul Haq, 2006. "Women’s Autonomy and Happiness: The Case of Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 45(1), pages 121-136.
  • Handle: RePEc:pid:journl:v:45:y:2006:i:1:p:121-136

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Naushin Mahmood & Syed Mubashir Ali, 2002. "The Disease Pattern and Utilisation of Health Care Services in Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 41(4), pages 745-757.
    2. Syed Mubashir Ali & Hussain B. Siyal & Mehboob Sultan, 1995. "Women's Empowerment and Reproductive Choices," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 34(4), pages 1137-1150.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarah Abdul Rahim & Asma Hyder & Qazi Masood Ahmed, 2017. "Governance and Happiness: Evidence From Citizens? Perception in Pakistan," Proceedings of Economics and Finance Conferences 4807773, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    2. Hongsong Liang & Yinshan Tang & Xuexi Huo, 2014. "Liushou Women’s Happiness and its Influencing Factors in Rural China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 907-918, July.

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    JEL classification:

    • J - Labor and Demographic Economics


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