The pursuit of happiness: does gender-based discrimination in social institutions matter?


March 2017 - Gender-based discrimination in social institutions has recently been estimated to be a burden for economic growth.  Globally, the current level of discrimination in formal and informal laws, social norms and practices, measured by the OECD Development Centre’s Social Institutions and Gender Index - SIGI -  is estimated to lead to a significant GDP-loss and a gradual dismantling of gender based discriminatory social institutions by 2030 could increase the annual GDP global growth rate by 0.03 to 0.6 percentage points over the next 15 years, depending on the scenario and the prevalence of existing gender gaps (Ferrant and Kolev, 2016). 

Subjective well-being measures are indicators of social progress and happiness going beyond GDP. New research by the OECD Development Centre using the SIGI shows that gender-based discrimination in social institutions appears to impose an important levy on happiness and both men and women tend to be happier when living in countries where they are treated more equally by prevailing social institutions (Ferrant, Kolev and Tassot, 2017). Eradicating gender-based discrimination in social institutions would decrease unhappiness:  the proportion of the world population reporting low levels of life satisfaction is estimated to decrease from 14% to 5%, and this effect would be most pronounced in MENA countries, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (see Figure).



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