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The Influence of Gender on Perceptions of the Quality of Life Jackie Scott & Jane Nolan & Anke Zimmermann University of Cambridge.

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Presentation on theme: "The Influence of Gender on Perceptions of the Quality of Life Jackie Scott & Jane Nolan & Anke Zimmermann University of Cambridge."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Influence of Gender on Perceptions of the Quality of Life Jackie Scott & Jane Nolan & Anke Zimmermann University of Cambridge

2 EU Interest in Wellbeing and QoL European Social Survey (ESS) seeks to develop measures that will allow us to assess EU aim of promoting.. the wellbeing of its people Distinction between objective & subjective wellbeing Distinction between personal vs social or relational wellbeing Distinction between having (feeling) & doing (functioning) eudaimonic/hedonistic (Aristotle)

3 Conceptual developments Sen and capability (persons life combines doing and beings i.e. functionings; capabilities refer to various combinations of functionings that a person can choose to have). Realisable opportunity; Not utility based Not individualistic Veenhovens Four Qualities of Life: Outer Life chances Livability of environment Inner Life chances Life-ability Of person Life results Utility of life Life results Appreciation of life

4 Perceptions of Q o L Quality of life is both an experience distant and experience near concept (Clifford Geertz) According to recent THES/Halifax – City 23 rd ; Cambridge 28 th ; Leeds 84 th (labour, housing, urban environ, physical environ, health, education & university environment) Peoples own views of Q o L important Perceptions matter – what people perceive as real has real consequences (W I Thomas)


6 Gender, Life Course, Class, and Q o L Relational focus - gender differences (Gilligan) women more other focused than men Gendered division of labour – different things may matter to men and women Timing matters (life course) – what matters will change with different life (& family) stages Resources matter – class (occupational status, income, and education) help shape expectations & experiences

7 British Household Panel The British Household Panel Survey began in 1991 and is a multi-purpose study whose unique value resides in the fact that: It follows the same representative sample of individuals - the panel - over a period of years; It is household-based, interviewing every adult member of sampled households; It contains sufficient cases for meaningful analysis of certain groups such as the elderly or lone parent families; The wave 1 panel consists of some 5,500 households and 10,300 individuals drawn from 250 postal areas of Great Britain.

8 British Household Panel Study (1997 & 2001) Open-Ended Measure of Quality of Life The final question asks you to think about things that are important to you. There is a lot of discussion these days about quality of life, yet that means different things to different people. Would you take a moment to think about what quality of life means to you, and tell me what things you consider are important for your own quality of life (For each mention) In what way is that important to you?

9 Quality of Life Main Codings POSITIVE MENTIONS 1.Personal characteristics good health freedom/independence happiness/peace of mind safety Time for self other personal 2.Material characteristics Finances Consumption Home comforts Employment Car, transport Education Other material 3.Leisure ……….. …… 4.Spiritual/Moral/Community Aspects …………. 5.Other People including pets ………….. 6.Aspects of Locality and Environment NEGATIVE MENTIONS Need better personal characteristics, less worry, better health… Need better material characteristics.. More money, better job …. More leisure/recreation More morality/spiritual/community spirit …. etc …. Other negative mentions

10 Q of Life Main mentions (% of sample who mention) Health 53% Family 40% Finance/standard of living 38% Being happy 28% Friends 20% Home comforts 16% Leisure/travel15% Employment 14% Freedom 7% Time for self 7% Other material benefits 7% Environment, community 7% Other personal 6% Spiritual, moral 5% Negative mentions 5% Miscel Others7% Dont know1% NB Up to 4 mentions are coded so % exceeds 100% (mentions taken from 1997 (N = 9047); similar pattern of mentions in 2002)

11 % Mentions of health by age & gender

12 Qualitative difference in health mentions by age & gender Younger people (under 50) give generic health mentions e.g. if you havent got your health you cant do anything Older people (50+) mention specific ailments or declines & importance of marbles and mobility Older people mention significant others health having direct bearing on own wellbeing e.g. I havent got any QoL at moment, as my husband has Alzheimers Younger people also cite relational aspect of health emphasising that their own QoL is bound up with health of immediate family

13 Mentions of family by gender, age & whether or not married/partnered

14 Qualitative difference in family mentions by age & gender Women more likely than men to mention family at all age groups Mentions of family highest for people through to mid adulthood (under age 46) Young people mention dependence on families for moral & financial support Gender role differences in caring vs breadwinning role, women emphasise importance of kids wellbeing & men secure job in order to provide for family needs If theyre happy I am happy characteristic female response (although some men too) Work-life balance issues often coincide with family mentions, but what balance means is gendered For men balance tends to be where the heavy burdens of work are off-set by time with family e.g. Im always stressed at work – its nice to turn off and relax at home For women, greater variation in how balance regarded (Hakim, but with resource constraints, work skills, education, child care etc)

15 Qualitative difference in finance mentions by age & gender In general, finance mentions concern having sufficient money not to worry and to be fairly comfortable Rampant materialism and consumerism is notable by its absence Men more likely than women to emphasise breadwinner role ie earning decent wage to support family Relatively few older people (65+) mention finance (nb very few people mention negative code – qual of life has positive nuance)

16 Family formation & Changing evaluations of Q o L Importance of well being of others for Q o L Other orientation varies depending on life-stage Family formation key transition Sub-sample - single & under age 40 in 1997; with kid in 2002 Women (N = 69) 2001 work status Men (N=82) 2001 work status employedFamily care (incl maternity) Other (unempl) employedFamily careOther (unempl) Employed Other (incl student)

17 What matters before & after kids Eleanor - giving up smoking, health generally, expanding my career, making myself money, my future generally.. (1997) - my son and a good family life: thats all thats important to me (2002) Mary - happiness and standard of living (1997) - health of my child and family, theyre my whole life, what would I do without them (2002) Carol - good friends and a steady income (1997) - being with family, see baby grow up and being with partner (2002) Exceptions – family mentions across both waves or in neither, but for most women clear shift in priorities Andrew - go out and enjoy myself (aged 26, partly skilled manual 1997) - to be comfortable, not struggling as we do at moment. If I could get a better job everything would be fine (unskilled manual aged 31) Billy - comfortable income, nice food, nice place to live, nice clothes and spending time with my girlfriend (aged 23 managerial and technical work 1997) - making a living to keep us all happy Ian - being able to go out and enjoy yourself (aged 29, 1997) - being with my family; they keep me happy and make me laugh (aged 34, 2001) Exceptions – some make no reference to others in responses after acquiring a family, but most men, like women emphasise wellbeing of others more when have family of their own

18 Resources & Mentions of Q o L (provisional results from pooled logit, includes both waves) healthfamilyfinancehappinessfriends R G Class+ lower class- lower class- Lower Female+ more Female * RG + Females * lower class +Female * Lower class Education+ less educ+ higher educ Age+ older - older Age 2 U shape Upturned U Income quintile+ higher - higher Year more- Less- less R 2 (Pseudo) N=7996

19 Conclusions Quality of life is perceived differently for men and women How far women are more other focused than men is unclear Womens and mens focus on others can take different forms – e.g. financial support versus personal caring Men and women have different conceptions of balance of work and family Men and women both become more focused on others, through transition to forming families of their own Need to consider QoL as relational – lives in convoy People more concerned with intimate lives rather than community/society (may reflect personal emphasis of question) QoL process not state, need to examine stability & change over life course Resources matter - peoples perceptions, aspirations & experiences are influenced by their occupation, education & income

20 ESRC Gender Equality Network Research Priority Network on Gender Inequalities in Production & Reproduction

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