رضایت از زندگی در میان ملل: اثرات وضعیت سیاسی زنان و اولویت های عمومی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|37646||2014||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Social Science Research, Volume 48, November 2014, Pages 48–61
Feminist scholars suggest that improving the quality of life of individuals living in nations around the world may be more readily achieved by increasing women’s political power and by reorienting public-policy priorities, than by focusing primarily on economic growth. These considerations raise the question of which characteristics of societies are associated with the quality of life of the people in those societies. Here, we address this issue empirically by statistically analyzing cross-national data. We assess the effects of gender equality in the political sphere, as well as a variety of other factors, on the subjective well-being of nations, as indicated by average self-reported levels of life satisfaction. We find that people report the highest levels of life satisfaction in nations where women have greater political representation, where military spending is low, and where health care spending is high, controlling for a variety of other factors. GDP per capita, urbanization, and natural resource exploitation are not clearly associated with life satisfaction. These findings suggest that nations may be able to improve the subjective quality of life of people without increasing material wealth or natural resource consumption by increasing gender equality in politics and changing public spending priorities.
What are the societal goals behind economic growth? Ostensibly, expansion of the economy is aimed at improving people’s lives. Measures of economic affluence, such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, are commonly used as indicators of quality of life of people in nations. However, the connection between GDP per capita and quality of life is not straightforward (Diener, Helliwell, and Kahneman, 2010).1 In fact, some activists and scholars have argued that GDP is “utterly unrelated to the well-being of a community” (Waring quoted in Nash, 1995) because the levels of inequality, poverty, health, educational attainment, and environmental conditions in a nation are not reflected in the GDP (Waring, 1999). The recognition of the limitations of economic measures for gauging a nation’s living conditions and overall well-being has spread widely. Increasingly, scholars and activists are calling for a shift toward measuring societal well-being using indicators that assess not only people’s physical conditions, including their health, but also how people themselves evaluate their own well-being (Diener et al., 2010 and New Economics Foundation, 2009). Focusing on more direct measures of well-being has the advantage of allowing us to ask the question of whether economic growth and other indicators of economic development actually improve people’s lives, rather than assuming that they do a priori. This type of approach also opens up the possibility of assessing how a variety of other factors, such as social inequalities, affect the ways in which people experience their lives. To help further our understanding of the factors that influence the well-being of people, our aim here is to assess the effects of women’s representation in the political sphere, affluence as measured by GDP per capita, and other factors on the average self-reported life satisfaction of people across nations. How societies work to improve people’s lives has important implications for the environment. A considerable body of research has established that some of the hallmarks of modernity and development – economic growth, urbanization, and the globalization of markets, among other factors – are associated with a rising tide of environmental problems, historically unprecedented in scale and diversity (Jorgenson and Clark, 2012, Rosa et al., 2004 and York et al., 2003). Scholars have found that those nations considered to be the most “developed” by these types of criteria typically have high levels of environmental impact relative to the standard of living of their people (Dietz et al., 2009, Dietz et al., 2012, Knight and Rosa, 2011 and New Economics Foundation, 2009). Furthermore, there is growing evidence that while increasing the quantity of material possessions, economic growth has not necessarily improved people’s lives (Blanchflower and Oswald, 2011, Diener et al., 2010 and Leiserowitz et al., 2005). In fact, empirical work has established that high levels of consumption of energy and other natural resources are not closely connected with the quality of life of people in societies (Mazur and Rosa, 1974, Rosa, 1997 and Seaford, 2011). There are quite a number of so-called “less-developed countries” (LDCs) where people live long lives and report high levels of life satisfaction, while having relatively small ecological footprints (New Economics Foundation, 2009 and Seaford, 2011). In light of the many environmental problems the world faces, finding ways to improve people’s lives without increasing their material affluence is critical for the future of our planet. Thus, there is a need to assess which societal factors show promise for improving people’s well-being without relying on increasing resource consumption. We maintain that important insights into this effort can be found in the work of feminist scholars who argue that greater gender equality and a reorientation of social priorities can improve people’s quality of life without the environmental consequences associated with common modes of economic growth (Waring, 1999). Here we aim to assess the effects of various factors on the average subjective well-being of people in nations, focusing especially on gender equality in national parliaments. To put our research in context, we first present a brief overview of research on cross-national differences in well-being. We then briefly review research on the connections between gender relationships and quality of life, presenting some of the reasons why we may expect there to be a connection between women’s political representation and the well-being of the populous. We then explain our analysis and present our findings.