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Gender and Well-being Around the World: Some Insights from the Economics of Happiness

Author

Listed:
  • Carol Graham

    (The Brookings Institution)

  • Soumya Chattopadhyay

    (The Brookings Institution)

Abstract

A wide body of research explores gender differences in welfare outcomes, and their implications for economic development. We aim to contribute to this work by looking at differences in reported well-being (happiness) across genders around the world. We examine differences across genders within countries, comparing age, income, education, and urban versus rural cohorts, and explore how those same within country differences vary in countries of different development levels. Our findings, based also on previous research on well-being more generally, highlight some consistent patterns across genders, with women typically happier than men in the world as a whole, with the exception of the poorest sample of countries. We also find substantial differences in the standard relationships between key variables - such as marriage - and happiness when we take differences in gender rights into account. Our research also suggests that cross-gender differences in well-being are affected by the same empirical and methodological factors that drive the paradoxes underlying the income and happiness debates more generally, with norms and expectations playing an important mediating role. Women's happiness seems to fall - at least in the short-term - when there are changes/improvements in gender rights, in keeping with our more general findings on the drops in reported well-being that are often associated with the process of acquiring agency.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol Graham & Soumya Chattopadhyay, 2012. "Gender and Well-being Around the World: Some Insights from the Economics of Happiness," Working Papers 2012-010, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2012-010
    Note: MIP
    as

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    File URL: http://humcap.uchicago.edu/RePEc/hka/wpaper/Graham_Chattopadhyay_2012_GenderandWellBeing.pdf
    File Function: First version, 3/1/2012
    Download Restriction: no

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Gender and Well-being Around the World: Some Insights from the Economics of Happiness
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2012-05-28 22:16:18
    2. Freedom vs happiness
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2012-05-28 18:48:18
    3. Freedom, well-being & capitalism
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2012-07-29 17:03:31
    4. Why was Hobsbawm wrong?
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2012-10-02 18:03:20
    5. What is Freedom? (18): Freedom is a Happiness Pump
      by Filip Spagnoli in P.A.P.-Blog on 2014-06-10 21:31:17

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. María Laura Arrosa & Néstor Gandelman, 2016. "Happiness Decomposition: Female Optimism," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 731-756, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    happiness; gender; agency; expectations;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination

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