Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 4 > Issue 4

Gender Gaps in Subjective Wellbeing: A New Paradox to Explore

Claudia Senik, University Paris-Sorbonne and Paris School of Economics, France,
Suggested Citation
Claudia Senik (2017), "Gender Gaps in Subjective Wellbeing: A New Paradox to Explore", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 4: No. 4, pp 349-369.

Publication Date: 20 Dec 2017
© 2017 C. Senik
JEL Codes: I31J16
HappinessGender gapsTime-UseTask DiversityExpectations


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. Data and Estimation Specifications 
3. General Findings about the Gender Gap in Subjective Wellbeing 
4. Tentative Explanations for the Gender Gaps in Subjective Wellbeing 
5. Conclusions 


In high-income countries, women declare a higher level of life satisfaction than men but score lower on measures that capture short-term emotions. The positive gap in life satisfaction is not explained by women’s situation on the labor market, their income, education, personality traits or other personal features or living conditions. We propose two main explanations for this picture. Our first explanation points to the greater diversity of women’s time-use. If there is something like a taste for diversity, then a wider scope of domains of interest is a source of potentially higher wellbeing. However, this larger set of tasks sometimes comes with time-stress, often accompanied with painful multitasking, which would explain women’s lower level of emotional wellbeing. Our second explanation points to the role of expectations as the benchmark that people use to evaluate their living conditions. We show that, especially as concerns labor, women’s expectations are still lower than men’s, although this gap has been decreasing over time and among recent generations.



Review of Behavioral Economics, Volume 4, Issue 4 Special Issue: Honoring Richard A. Easterlin
See the other articles that are also part of this special issue.