Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 731–756 | Cite as

Happiness Decomposition: Female Optimism

  • María Laura Arrosa
  • Néstor GandelmanEmail author
Research Paper


Using the Gallup World Poll, the World Values Survey and the European Social Survey we present evidence of differences in happiness by gender. Although worldwide women are happier than men, at the country level the happiness gap favors females in some cases and males in others. We decompose the happiness gap between observable characteristics and how male and females react to these characteristics. We find that the observables do not help to explain the gap, quite the contrary, they hide an unfavorable situation of women. That is to say, if females had the same objective individual characteristics than men, they would be even happier that what they currently are. We conclude that females tend to respond to individual happiness determinants in a much “favorable” way than men do. Our results are pervasive among geographic regions and country income groups. We also find a correlation between the observed and unobserved component of the happiness decomposition with gdp per capita, female life expectation and female literacy rate.


Happiness inequality Gender Oaxaca–Blinder decomposition 

JEL Classification

I31 J16 D03 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad ORT UruguayMontevideoUruguay

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