An indigenous study reveals Indian women are a happy lot
The survey reveals that 79.21 percent of the women possess very high level and high level of happiness and well-being. It is interesting to observe that women from all age groups show very little variation in the level of happiness and well-being.
The growing interest in happiness and well-being present, among the people of a nation, is an indicator of the global change where human well-being is not being valued only on materialistic gains. United Nations in 2012 released its first World Happiness report where happiness and well-being were defined as a new economic paradigm. Their seventh happiness report released this year placed India at 140 position out of 156 countries. The emerging happiness trends in this report indicate that India has slipped in its position.
The prosocial behaviour of the people in this UN report has been measured mainly in terms of donating one’s time and money to others, which is believed to promote subjective well-being and encompasses greater positive affect, lowers negative affect and gives life satisfaction. Though the report recognizes the substantial methodological limitations while counting well-being and happiness, it supports the possibility of relationship between pro-social spending and happiness. The UN happiness report suggests that this may be detectable in most humans around the globe. It has reported that Indian participants in the survey had higher levels of happiness after reflecting on a time they spent money on others versus themselves. The sample size taken to undertake this study was between 2000 to 3000. Also, the distribution of the respondents across the geography of India, region, gender has not been revealed in the report.
An indigenous study undertaken by Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan Kendra, Pune surveyed 43,255 women across the country covering 464 out of the 727 districts and found that a large number of women reported a high happiness and well-being index. This study which has been conducted by nearly all women surveyors covering 64% of the districts in the country reveals many social, economic, educational and behavioral pattern. A first of its kind, this study has been conducted in all the 29 states. The women respondents have been taken from urban area which includes small towns and talukas, tribal area which includes tribal population of rural area, urban slum and rural area.
The educational background of these women respondents shows that 46.05 per cent women have studied below 12th standard, 1.69 per cent is from non-formal education. 36.72 per cent women studied up to desirable level of formal education in which 19.23 per cent are graduates, 14.25 per cent are post-graduates and 0.09 per cent have doctoral degree.
The survey scale included social activeness, emotional satisfaction, positive perception towards life, social and extrovert personality, confidence, self-esteem, social involvement, physical health and mental health. This survey included 11 positive statements and 9 reverse statements.
The survey reveals that 79.21 percent of the women possess very high level and high level of happiness and well-being. It is interesting to observe that women from all age groups show very little variation in the level of happiness and well-being. The highest level of happiness and well-being is observed in the age group of 51 to 60 years. This could be because women are contented after fulfilling family responsibilities by this age and have leisure time. The largest number of respondents having very high and high level of happiness, is found among the married women. It could be because of the social security and prosocial participation by women post marriage which is an integral part of the Indian family system.
An interesting observation from this study has been that there is no relationship between the status of employment and the level of happiness. It is almost the same in the women in all categories of employment. This implies that concept of ‘happiness economics’ related to desirable outcomes related to employment and work place may not hold true in Indian women. While the world is debating on whether happiness is an ‘inside-out’ or ‘outside-in’ phenomenon referring to an individual’s happiness based on external and material conditions vis-à-vis personal attribute and cultural influences; this study reflects that Indian women primarily value their social fabric and indigenous ways leading to happiness.
(The writer is an Associate Professor and former member of Academic Council at University of Delhi)