Happiness Quantified: A Satisfaction Calculus Approach

By Bernard Van Praag; Ada Ferrer-I-Carbonell | Go to book overview

Males, Females, and Households

In this chapter we will look for gender differences in satisfactions. The relevant question is whether males and females have a different perception of their situation, resulting in different levels of satisfaction even when their objective situation is the same. We saw before that satisfaction levels may be partly explained by a structural model. If those structural models differ, it implies that the structural satisfaction derived from a specific situation x would differ between male and female.

The literature on satisfaction has only incorporated gender as a 'dummy' but has not looked at structural differences between genders nor at the relation between the satisfaction level of husband and wife. Moreover, existing literature has mainly focused on general satisfaction and has not looked systematically at the domain satisfaction differences. In the existing literature gender differences are usually found to be very small. Women are, in general, more frequently depressed and experience more negative emotions than men, but are not consistently unhappier. Diener et al. (1998) explain this by suggesting that even if women experience negative emotions more often, they also experience more positive emotions, so that these balance out. The empirical evidence using satisfaction questions seems contradictory. Some studies find women to be happier (see e.g. Gerdtham and Johannesson 2001) and others find men to be happier (see e.g. Clark and Oswald 1994 ; Theodossiou 1998), but the difference tends to be small. We have already looked at gender differences in domain satisfactions in Chapter 3 . There, for instance, we found for Germany that women are in general more satisfied, except with regard to leisure satisfaction.

In the British and German household panels, satisfaction questions were posed to all adults in a specific household. This implies that we are able to compare the well-being of the husband and wife in the same household. In this way we can disentangle whether there are systematic differences between husband's and wife's satisfactions. First, we study whether the reported satisfaction levels differ between man and woman. Second, we estimate the satisfaction equations to see whether there are structural differences; that is, whether the influence of the objective situation on subjective happiness differs between

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Happiness Quantified: A Satisfaction Calculus Approach
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • A Satisfaction Calculus Approach iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Analysis of Income Satisfaction 15
  • Domain Satisfactions 44
  • Aggregation of Satisfactions 77
  • Political Satisfaction 96
  • Males, Females, and Households 114
  • Impact of Past and Future on Satisfaction 136
  • Influence of the Reference Group on Norms 158
  • Health and Subjective Well-Being 177
  • Effects of Climate on Welfare and Well-Being 205
  • Compensations for Aircraft Noise Nuisance 219
  • Taxation and Well-Being 239
  • Subjective Income Inequalities 263
  • Subjective Inequalitiesgeneralized Approach 281
  • Poverty 291
  • Epilogue 318
  • References 323
  • Index 333
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