Differences in subjective well-being within households: An analysis of married and cohabiting couples in South Africa
We investigate differences in subjective well-being (life satisfaction) within the household using matched data on co-resident couples drawn from the 2008 National Income Dynamics Study for South Africa. The majority of men and women in co-resident partnerships report different levels of subjective wellbeing. We use regression analysis first to explore the correlates of subjective well-being among women, and among men, who are married or cohabiting. We then estimate the predictors of within-couple differences in life satisfaction. Our results suggest that a number of correlates, related particularly to the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the household, differ by gender and also predict differences in subjective well-being within couples. For example, access to piped water on site increases the subjective well-being of women in comparison both to other married or cohabiting women and to the woman’s partner, but it does not account for differences in subjective well-being among married or cohabiting men. In contrast, the presence of young children in the household lowers the subjective well-being of women, while there is no such relationship for men. Furthermore, within couples, women’s relative satisfaction falls with the presence of young children in the household.
Keywords: Happiness gaps, intra-household allocation, life satisfaction, subjective
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