The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

Cross-cultural associations between gendered perceptions of happiness and leisure time parity among older adults


Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College

April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Increased leisure time has been linked with greater perceived happiness, suggesting that reduced workloads may substantially improve well-being. Yet, sex differences are apparent in perceived leisure time among high-income populations. Women are generally expected to spend more time completing household work compared to men, which may decrease leisure time and associated happiness ratings. Still, gendered differences in the relationship between perceived leisure time and happiness have not been tested in lower income countries, particularly among older adults. This study uses data from the World Health Organization’s Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE) to test whether perceived free time parity is associated with reported happiness equality among adults >50 years old in five middle-income nations (China, Ghana, India, Mexico, and the Russian Federation). Logistic regressions were conducted (by country) testing whether perceived leisure time parity between the sexes was associated with perceptions of equal happiness between men and women, while controlling for several lifestyle factors (n = 41,248). As hypothesized, in all countries individuals who thought women had equal or greater leisure time compared to men were significantly more likely to also report that women were as happy or happier than their male counterparts (OR = 3.82-11.29, all p < 0.001). These results may indicate that perceptions of who has more free time are important in shaping individual impressions of gendered happiness patterns. Further, these findings suggest that ensuring men and women have equal leisure time might help achieve parity in happiness, even at older ages.

Support: NIH NIA Interagency Agreement YA1323-08-CN-0020; NIH R01-AG034479.