Women find happiness is not about the economy, stupid

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Men are happier with money, while women find greater joy in friendships and relationships with their children, co-workers and bosses, a new global survey reveals.

A woman works in Shanghai Stock Exchange room in Shanghai, April 27, 2007. REUTERS/Nir Elias

The online survey of 28,153 people in more than 51 countries by global marketing and information firm Nielsen found that as the world grapples with a recession and financial markets remain volatile, many people are reminding themselves that money can’t buy happiness.

The Nielsen Happiness Study found that globally, women are happier than men in 48 of the 51 countries surveyed in April 2008, and only in Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam were men found to be happier than women.

“Because they are happier with non-economic factors, women’s happiness is more recession-proof which might explain why women around the world are happier in general than men are,” Nielsen Vice President of Consumer Research Bruce Paul said in a statement.

Japanese women reported the greatest difference and are 15 percent happier than Japanese men. Women are also more optimistic about the future, scoring higher than men on predictions of their happiness in the next six months.

Women were also more content with their sex lives, although men were generally happier with their spouses, the study found. Japanese and New Zealand women reported the greatest difference in satisfaction with their sex lives.

Men are generally happier with their physical health than women, and this is especially pronounced in South Africa. Egypt bucks the trend, with women rating their happiness with their health considerably higher than men.

Globally, men rated their happiness with their mental health higher than women. This was echoed in Belgium, South Korea, Mexico, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Egypt, and Israel.

There are three main drivers of happiness globally, according to the study: personal financial situation, mental health and job/career. Being satisfied with your partner is also important for happiness.

As well as gauging levels of happiness, the Nielsen survey examined what specific factors contributed to happiness around the world.

“Happiness is a local and personal matter and Nielsen sought to uncover what specific factors contribute to making people happy in different parts of the world,” Paul said. “Many of the world’s poorer and emerging markets outranked developed countries for happiness and satisfaction levels in nearly all aspects of their lives.”

Globally, Lithuanians and Indonesians are most reliant on their personal financial situation and job for happiness, while South Africans and Venezuelans ranked the least dependent on money for their happiness, the survey found.

Nielsen also looked closely at survey results to find out if a nation’s happiness level was influenced by low income inequality, low corruption or peace. Surprisingly, markets which performed poorly on these factors were in many cases the happiest nations, Paul said.

“For consumers in rapidly developing markets, there could be a greater sense of appreciation for things that bring a better life than they had a few years ago.”