Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This study examines gender differences in psychological well-being and its causal factors in 33 countries. Previous studies documented women’s 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 women’s psychological well-being more than men’s. 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 women’s 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 women’s gender role preferences and work orientations, implying that women are more heterogeneous than men not only within country but also between countries.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Kamo, Yoshinori



Included in

Sociology Commons