Unhappiness in unemployment – is it the same for everyone?

Simonetta Longhi, Alita Nandi, Mark Bryan, Sara Connolly and Cigdem Gedikli

Abstract

Many studies have shown that there is a general tendency for men’s subjective wellbeing to be more badly affected by unemployment when compared to women, although the extent varies across countries. The existing literature notes the gender differences and offers possible explanations, but does not formally compare competing hypotheses. We analyse whether gender differences in life satisfaction associated with the experience of unemployment can be attributed to degrees of specialisation in the labour market, differences in the types of work undertaken by men and women, differences in personality traits, work identity or gender norms. We find that it is not all, but some, women who suffer less than men when experiencing a transition into unemployment. The experience of unemployment for women is differentiated by pay, work identity and, most powerfully, gender attitudes.