Gender, Happiness & China

by Jiaying N

The intersection of gender difference and happiness has been discussed for decades. However, research on the influence of gender difference on happiness in Eastern countries is marginalized. There is a need to adopt a cultural framework to analyze the relationship between gender difference and conception of happiness in China. The purpose of this study is to examine how women and men define happiness in a Chinese cultural context, explore how gender difference exerts an effect on defining happiness and provide suggestions for future research on the role of gender difference in defining happiness in China. This research is a qualitative study which takes document analysis as primary method of collecting data. Findings in this study suggest that women and men in China define happiness (socially oriented) compared with their counterparts (individually oriented) in western culture. And also “harmony of group” in Confucianism influences how Chinese men and women consider social interpersonal relationship as an important factor in defining happiness. Happiness of women mainly comes from their role obligation in a family and family harmony as well as prosperity. By contrast, men rely more on social status and material achievement to define their happiness.


In the second review of SWB (Subjective Well Being) and gender (sex), it is not difficult to find gender difference in happiness and its impact on shaping SWB. Some related studies demonstrate the greater possibility of women getting involved into negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety and depression. However, some studies show that little difference is found in terms of happiness in different gender. And why these conclusions exist? As Clemens Tesch-Romer, Andreas Motel-Klingebiel and Martin J. Tomasik explain in their study, difference between gender in define SWB should be “smaller in equal opportunity countries” compared with “countries where opportunities structures are more disadvantageous for women” (331). Cultures in various societies present various gender stereotypes which could generate diverse social expectations on males and females within cultures. They further point out that if women live in a country where they have fewer “action resources and societal opportunities than men”, they may presumably be less successful in achieving their goals and consequently unhappier and less satisfied than men (332). This assumption takes accounts into societal culture and its expectation on males and females. What are the social expectation on males and females in China?

Works Cited

Clemens Tesch-Romer, Andreas Motel-Klingebiel, and Martin J. Tomasik. “Gender Difference in Subjective Well-Being: Comparing Societies with Respect to Gender Equality.” Social Indicators Research. 85.2. (2008): 329-349. Print.



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