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Women’s optimism, the gender happiness equaliser: a case of South Africa


  • Greyling, Talita
  • Fisher, Bianca


This paper investigates whether there is co-movement in subjective wellbeing (swb) gender gaps and objective wellbeing (owb) gender gaps over time and whether swb gender gaps are caused by gender differences in endowments or by the different ways men and women value the pre-mentioned. This is important, as global goals and national policy focus on the improvement of owb gender equality, ignoring the importance of swb gender equality. We use the NIDS dataset, comparing 2008 and 2017 data, and employ the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition method in the analysis. We find i) the trends in owband swb gender gaps are unrelated and ii) the swb gender gaps are explained mainly by gender differences in endowments,but in 2017, due to women’s “optimism”, notwithstanding their lower levels of endowments, the swb between genders was equalised. These results indicate the need for a swb gender equality policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Greyling, Talita & Fisher, Bianca, 2020. "Women’s optimism, the gender happiness equaliser: a case of South Africa," GLO Discussion Paper Series 472, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:472

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    Happiness gap; Gender; Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition; South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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