(E)Quality of Life: A Cross-National Analysis of the Effect of Gender Equality on Life Satisfaction
Several international organizations have recently prioritized promoting equal rights for men and women. Reflecting these priorities, many view gender equality as a means to promote societal well-being; yet still others suggest that it has deleterious effects on the enacting state. To test these pro-equality arguments, we examine the effect of four major indicators of gender (in)equality on life satisfaction: the Gender Empowerment Measure, Gender Development Index, Gender Inequality Index, and the Gender Gap Index (or Global Gender Gap). Utilizing survey data from the World Values Survey and Eurobarometer, we find strong and consistent evidence that promoting gender equality leads to greater subjective well-being. Furthermore, we demonstrate that policies promoting gender equality tend to improve the quality of life for everyone, not just direct beneficiaries of the policies (women). Indeed, men also see strong and significant gains in life satisfaction when the sexes are more equal. As a result, we suggest that scholars of subjective well-being expand research into determinants of quality of life to include equality and other social factors. We also suggest that the findings presented here have tangible implications for governments and policy workers who are tasked with promoting equality and well-being.
KeywordsGender Equality Subjective well-being Happiness
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