The Subjective Well-Being of Working Women in Europe

  • Eduardo BericatEmail author
Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)


In this chapter we study the subjective well-being of working women in Europe, carrying out a comparative analysis of their socioemotional well-being in different employment situations. In short, we look at the extent to which different employment situations affect the quality of life of working women, based on their own subjective emotional evaluation – for example, the extent to which specific employment situations make women feel happier or enjoy life more; feel sadder, alone or depressed; feel more optimistic and proud of themselves; or feel more relaxed and rested. To study the impact that different employment situations have on the subjective well-being of working women we have used data from a special module on Personal and Social Well-Being introduced in the third wave of the European Social Survey. With this data we have created a multi-dimensional and synthetic model to measure the subjective well-being of those surveyed. The Socioemotional Well-Being Index (SEWBI) is composed of 4 dimensions and 10 emotional states. The analysis is from a gender perspective, establishing relative comparisons between the respective variations in socioemotional well-being that women and men experience when we compare different employment situations.


Subjective well-being Socioemotional well-being Quality of life Gender inequality Working women Working conditions Life satisfaction Happiness Europe 


  1. Andersson, P. (2008). Happiness and health: Well-being among the self-employed. The Journal of Socioeconomics, 37, 213–236.Google Scholar
  2. Bericat, E. (2012a). The European gender equality index: Conceptual and analytical issues. Social Indicators Research, 108, 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bericat, E. (2012b). Emotions, Sociopedia. International Sociological Association (ISA) and Sage (pp. 1–13). Available at:
  4. Bericat, E. (2013). The socioemotional well-being index (SEWBI): Theoretical framework and empirical operationalisation. Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-013-0528-z.Google Scholar
  5. Bericat, E., & Sánchez Bermejo, E. (2015). Structural Gender Equality in Europe and Its Evolution Over the First Decade of the Twentyfirst Century. Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-015-0949-y
  6. Bjørnskov, Ch., Dreher, A., & Fischer, J. (2007). On gender inequality and life satisfaction: Does discrimination matter? (KOF Working Papers, No. 161, pp. 1–27).Google Scholar
  7. Blanchflower, D. G., & Oswald, A. J. (1998). What makes an entrepreneur? Journal of Labor Economics, 16(1), 26–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bryson, A., Green, F., Bridges, S., & Craig, R. (2012). Well-being, health and work (NIESR Discussion Paper No. 387).Google Scholar
  9. Clark, A. E., & Oswald, A. J. (1994). Unhappiness and unemployment. Economic Journal, 104, 648–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Collins, R. (2004). Interaction ritual chains. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Coltrane, S. (2000). Research on household labor: Modeling and measuring the social embeddedness of routine family work. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62(4), 1208–1233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Diener, E., Sandvik, E., Seidlitz, L., & Diener, M. (1993). The relationship between income and subjective well-being: Relative or absolute? Social Indicators Research, 28, 195–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Diener, E., Suh, E., Lucas, R., & Smith, H. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125(2), 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Diener, E., Inglehart, R., & Tay, L. (2012). Theory and validity of life satisfaction scales. Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-012-0076-y.Google Scholar
  15. Dolan, P., Peasgood, T., & White, M. (2008). Do we really know what makes us happy? A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Psychology, 29, 94–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Easterlin, R. A. (1974). Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. In P. A. David & M. W. Reder (Eds.), Nations and households in economic growth: Essays in honor of Moses Abramowitz (pp. 89–125). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  17. EIGE, European Institute for Gender Equality. (2013). Gender equality index report. Vilnius: EIGE.Google Scholar
  18. ESS. (2006). European Social Survey. Available at:
  19. Ferree, M. M. (1984). Class, housework, and happiness: Women’s work and life satisfaction. Sex Roles, 11(11/12), 1057–1074.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A. (2012) Happiness economics. SERIEs. doi: 10.1007/s13209-012-0086-7
  21. Haring, M. J., Okun, M. A., & Stock, W. A. (1984). A quantitative synthesis of literature on work status and subjective well being. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 25, 316–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Huppert, F. A., Andrew, C., Frey, B., Marks, N., & Siegrist, J. (2005). Personal and social well-being: Creating indicators for a flourishing Europe. Available at:
  23. Kemper, T. D. (1978). A social interactional theory of emotions. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  24. Klumb, P., & Lampert, T. (2004). Women, work, and well-being 1950–2000: A review and methodological critique. Social Science & Medicine, 58, 1007–1024.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Macran, S., Joshi, H., & Dex, S. (1996). Employment after childbearing: A survival analysis. Work, Employment and Society, 10, 273–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Marks, S. (1977). Multiple roles and role strain: Some notes on human energy, time, and commitment. American Sociological Review, 42, 921–936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Michalos, A. C. (2008). Education, happiness and wellbeing. Social Indicators Research, 87(3), 347–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. OECD. (2011). How’s life? Measuring well-being. OECD Publishing.
  29. ONS, Office for National Statistics. (2012). Analysis of experimental subjective well-being data from the Annual Population Survey, April to September 2011.
  30. Oswald, A. J. (1997). Happiness and economic performance. Economic Journal, 107, 1815–1831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rubery, J., & Rafferty, A. (2013). Women and recession revisited. Work, Employment & Society, 27(3), 414–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Scheff, T. J. (1990). Microsociology: Discourse, emotion, and social structure. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  33. Sironi, M., & Mencarini, L. (2006). Happiness, housework and gender inequality in modern Europe (pp. 1–29).
  34. Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2009). The paradox of declining female happiness (NBER working papers series, 14969, pp. 1–46). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Thoits, P. A. (1983). Multiple identities and psychological well- being: A reformulation and test of the social isolation hypothesis. American Sociological Review, 48, 174–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Veenhoven, R. (1991). Is happiness relative? Social Indicator Research, 24, 1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Veenhoven, R. (2012). Happiness, also known as “life satisfaction” and “subjective well-being”. In K. C. Land et al. (Eds.), Hanbook of social indicators and quality of life research (pp. 63–77). Dordrecht: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-2421-1_3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Watson, D., Pichker, F., & Wallace, C. (2010). Second European quality of life survey: Subjective well-being in Europe. Dublin: Eurofound.Google Scholar
  39. Wittrer, R., Okun, M., Stock, W., & Haring, M. (1984). Education and subjective well-being: A meta-analysis. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 6(2), 165–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SevilleSevilleSpain

Personalised recommendations