MPIDR Working Paper
Why do women in former communist countries look unhappy? A demographic perspective
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2009-032, 14 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (November 2009)
This paper investigates the causes of the positive correlation between happiness and the sex gap in happiness between women and men observed in Europe. Departing from a variety of hypotheses that are based on the sex differences at the individual level, this paper tests whether the positive correlation can be explained by the sex difference in life expectancy. The mechanisms working behind are as follows. First, national average happiness affects the sex gap in life expectancy negatively because men are more fragile to stress (unhappiness). Second, the sex difference in life expectancy influences the sex gap in happiness negatively because it affects the chance of being a widow for women. Using a 3SLS approach, it found that both effects are significant and that the direct effects between happiness and the happiness gap are insignificant. These results indicate that the positive correlation between happiness and the happiness gap is an artifact of the demographic compositional effect resulted from the sex gap in life expectancy.
Keywords: Europe, economic and social development, life expectancy