Title page for ETD etd-04202010-122318

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hori, Makiko
Author's Email Address mhori1@lsu.edu
URN etd-04202010-122318
Title Gender Differences and Cultural Contexts: Psychological Well-Being in Cross-National Perspective
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kamo, Yoshinori Committee Chair
Dumais, Susan A. Committee Member
Grimes, Michael D. Committee Member
Schafer, Mark J. Committee Member
Marks, Loren D. Dean's Representative
  • social role theory
  • cross-national
  • effects of context
  • gender
  • psychological well-being
Date of Defense 2009-11-02
Availability unrestricted
This study examines gender differences in psychological well-being and its causal factors in 33 countries. Previous studies documented womenís vulnerability in mental health, and according to social role explanations, gender differences in mental health are attributed to gendered socialization and gender roles assigned to men and women. Gender differences in mental health thus should disappear when we see gender-neutral socialization and social roles.

I incorporate contextual factors, such as the country-level gender equality and gender norms, and argue that the effects of gender and family-related factors at the individual-level on psychological well-being are conditional on societal-level factors in each country. I hypothesize that gender differences in psychological well-being are smaller in countries with greater gender equality and more egalitarian gender norms. Utilizing data from the 2002 International Social Survey Program and multi-level modeling, I investigate how the contextual factors impact the effects of marriage, employment, and parenthood on psychological well-being for men and women.

The results show that gender differences in mental health remain, though it is not as simple as women experiencing lower psychological well-being than men. Women show lower psychological well-being that is related to the extent of family responsibility, and caring roles are negatively associated with womenís psychological well-being more than menís. Meanwhile, men indicate more stress with work responsibility, and provider roles have more impacts on males than females. I interpret these results to mean that the gendered socialization and gender roles still have strong influences on mental health and these are gender specific.

In addition, more significant effects of the country-level variables--both direct and cross-level-- are found for the female sample, and the effects of gender equality and egalitarian gender norms on womenís psychological well-being are mixed. In other words, women in more egalitarian countries are not necessarily better in mental health than those in more traditional countries. These results suggest the polarization of womenís gender role preferences and work orientations, implying that women are more heterogeneous than men not only within country but also between countries.

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