Happiness, Domains of Life Satisfaction, Perceptions, and Valuation Differences across Genders

SOEPpapers 1128, 31 S.

Stefani Milovanska-Farrington, Stephen Farrington


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Happiness is strongly associated with goal attainment, productivity, mental health and suicidal risk. This paper examines the effect of satisfaction with areas of life on subjective well-being (SWB), the importance of relative perceptions compared to absolute measures in predicting overall life satisfaction, and differences in the domains of life which have the greatest impact on happiness of men and women. The findings suggest that relative perceptions have a large statistically significant effect on SWB. Satisfaction with family life and health have the largest while satisfaction with income has the lowest impact on overall SWB for both genders. Work satisfaction is more important for men than for women, whereas partner’s happiness is more valued by female respondents. Satisfaction with household compared to personal income has a larger effect on SWB in all subsamples except employed women. Understanding the perceived and factual determinants of happiness has urgent implications in the context of the detrimental impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on SWB.

JEL-Classification: D60;I31;J16;D03
Keywords: subjective well-being, satisfaction with areas of life, perceptions, values, gender differences