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Gender Differences in Subjective Well-Being and Their Relationships with Gender Equality

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  • Gerhard Meisenberg

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  • Michael Woodley

Abstract

Although most surveys of happiness and general life satisfaction find only small differences between men and women, women report slightly higher subjective well-being than men in some countries, and slightly lower subjective well-being in others. The present study investigates the social and cultural conditions that favor higher female relative to male happiness and life satisfaction. Results from more than 90 countries represented in the World Values Survey show that conditions associated with a high level of female relative to male happiness and life satisfaction include a high proportion of Muslims in the country, a low proportion of Catholics, and absence of communist history. Among indicators of gender equality, a low rate of female non-agricultural employment is associated with higher female-versus-male happiness and satisfaction. Differences in the rate of female non-agricultural employment explain part of the effects of communist history and prevailing religion. They may also explain the recent observation of declining female life satisfaction in the United States. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Gerhard Meisenberg & Michael Woodley, 2015. "Gender Differences in Subjective Well-Being and Their Relationships with Gender Equality," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(6), pages 1539-1555, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jhappi:v:16:y:2015:i:6:p:1539-1555
    DOI: 10.1007/s10902-014-9577-5
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10902-014-9577-5
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    2. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 190-225, August.
    3. Francine D. Blau, 1998. "Trends in the Well-Being of American Women, 1970-1995," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 112-165, March.
    4. Catherine Pakaluk & Joseph Burke, 2010. "The New Battle of the Sexes: Understanding the Reversal of the Happiness Gender Gap," Working Papers 1004, Ave Maria University, Department of Economics.
    5. Clemens Tesch-Römer & Andreas Motel-Klingebiel & Martin Tomasik, 2008. "Gender Differences in Subjective Well-Being: Comparing Societies with Respect to Gender Equality," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 85(2), pages 329-349, January.
    6. Herbst, Chris M., 2011. "‘Paradoxical’ decline? Another look at the relative reduction in female happiness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 773-788.
    7. Silvia Pezzini, 2005. "The Effect of Women's Rights on Women's Welfare: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages 208-227, March.
    8. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Veljko Jovanović & Mohsen Joshanloo & Dragan Đunda & Ali Bakhshi, 2017. "Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Domain-Specific and General Life Satisfaction: A Study in Iran and Serbia," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 12(1), pages 185-204, March.

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