Gender Differences in Happiness: The Effect of Marriage, Employment, and Parenthood in 33 Countries

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: Harbor Lounge A
Oral Presentation
Makiko HORI , Wichita State University

Happiness remains an important measure of psychological well-being.  Given the current challenges of struggling global economies and political conflict and unrest, psychological well-being has never been more important.  While previous studies have found that females, the young, the unmarried, and people with lower socioeconomic status are more likely to suffer from lower psychological well-being, they fail to fully capture societal-level conditions' impact on individual happiness. Although previous studies have focused on how societal conditions affect individuals in a given society and shape perceptions of their personal conditions, in this study I focus on gender.  Utilizing hierarchical linear modeling on data from the 2002 International Social Survey Programme, I examined gender differences in happiness and how country-level gender stratification affects the relationship between happiness and family-related predictors in 33 countries.   The results show that there are clear and significant gender differences not only in the level of happiness between men and women but also in the factors affecting their happiness. While, on average, women evidenced lower happiness than men, results indicated that there were gender differences in the effects of being married, not working, and the number of children individuals had on happiness. However, despite expectations that country-level gender equality and egalitarian gender norms would improve women’s happiness, the measures of gender equality and gender ideology at the country-level showed mixed results in the cross-level interaction and therefore suggestion are made for future directions in this important area of research.