Despite facing some inequality, women worldwide rate their well-being nearly the same as men

Published: Sunday, Oct. 28 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

Gallup found that men are happier by statistically significant numbers in just two countries, Ukraine and Vietnam. Again there are no clear ways for explaining this finding. It is possible that responses in the Ukraine are related to differences in men and women's physical health, according to Morales. Only 44 percent of Ukrainian women say they are thriving when asked about their physical health. Conversely, 63 percent of Ukrainian men are thriving in terms of their physical health.

Women's access to well-paying jobs may also be an issue, according to data supplied by the United Nations Development Program. Ukrainian women between the ages of 15 and 70 have a labor market participation rate of just 58 percent. Those who do have jobs only earn 69 cents for every dollar a man earns. These trends persist despite the fact that Ukrainian women have higher levels of education than Ukrainian men.

In Vietnam, women have high (73 percent) participation in the labor force and high degrees of literacy. While women in these countries are not legally discriminated against, there is widespread societal discrimination, according to the Center for Asia-Pacific Women in Politics. Prostitution and domestic violence are widely tolerated, and women fear the social stigma of divorce.

Women in Vietnam and the Ukraine certainly aren't the only women facing these issues, so it is surprising that these are the only countries where a large discrepancy between men and women's happiness exists. Morales says Gallup is still trying to understand why the results came out the way they did.

Best and worst places

Gallup found that men and women are most likely to be thriving in Denmark (70/78 percent) and Canada (62/70 percent). In the United States, 57 percent of men and 55 percent of women say they are thriving. Men and women in Afghanistan, Nepal and Madagascar are the least likely to be thriving.

In Afghanistan, 2 percent of women and 5 percent of men say they are thriving. In 2010, Gallup measured well-being among women in Afghanistan to be 15 percent. It says that these declines coincide with higher food prices and food shortages triggered by floods in Pakistan, the country's chief food exporter.

Email: mwhite@desnews.com

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