(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
- Buvinic, M., Furst-Nichols, R., & Koolwal, G. (2014). Mapping gender data gaps. Data2X. http://data2x.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Data2X_MappingGenderDataGaps_FullReport.pdf. Accessed 18 April 2017.
- Cuberes, D., & Teignier-Baqué, M. (2011). Gender inequality and economic growth. Background Paper for the World Development Report 2012. World Bank. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWDR2012/Resources/7778105-1299699968583/7786210-1322671773271/cuberes.pdf. Accessed 18 September 2017.
- Fleche, S., Smith, C., & Sorsa, P. (2012). Exploring determinants of subjective wellbeing in OECD countries: Evidence from the World Value Survey., OECD Statistics Working Papers, No. 2012/01 Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
- Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (2008). Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: Longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. British Medical Journal, 337(a2238), 1–9.Google Scholar
- Kaplan, T. (1997). Crazy for democracy: Women in grassroots movements. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- OECD. (2013). Gender equality and women’s rights in the post-2015 agenda: A foundation for sustainable development. http://www.oecd.org/dac/POST-2015%20Gender.pdf. Accessed 17 September 2017.
- Pacek, A. (2009). Politics and happiness: An empirical ledger. In A. Dutt (Ed.), Happiness, economics, and politics (pp. 231–256). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
- Powley, E. (2006). Rwanda: The impact of women legislators on policy outcomes affecting children and families. https://www.unicef.org/policyanalysis/files/Rwanda_the_impact_of_women_legislators.pdf. Accessed 7 April 2018.
- Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2002). Overview of self-determination theory: An organismic dialectical perspective. In E. L. Deci & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of self-determination research (pp. 3–33). Rochester: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
- Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2009). The paradox of declining female happiness. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 1(2), 190–225.Google Scholar
- United Nations Development Programme. (2009). Human development report 2009: Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development. http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/reports/269/hdr_2009_en_complete.pdf. Accessed 1 May 2017.
- United Nations Development Programme. (2016). Human development report 2016: Human development for everyone. http://www.hdr.undp.org. Accessed 1 May 2017.
- Waring, M. (1999). Counting for nothing: What men value and what women are worth. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
- World Bank. (2011). World development report 2012: Gender equality and development. https://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWDR2012/Resources/7778105-1299699968583/7786210-1315936222006/Complete-Report.pdf. Accessed 18 September 2017.
- World Economic Forum. (2016). The global gender gap report 2016. http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2016/. Accessed 18 September 2017.