Women’s Happiness in Islam and Christianity: Is it different?

Vesna Bjegovic-Mikanovic, Helmut Wenzel, Ulrich Laaser


Background: Happiness is a feel of life desired by all. Can it be related to the main global faith, Islam and Christianity? We try to answer this question for women given their traditional religious embeddedness.

Methods: We use national datasets of recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) if they contain data on indicators of happiness and satisfaction with life which allow the calculation of a Subjective Well-being Index (SWB) with a range of 19 points from -11.5 to +7.5. We identified four predominantly Islamic countries (Bangladesh, Chad, Iraq, and Pakistan) and four Christian countries (Congo DR, Georgia, Serbia, and Zimbabwe) with datasets not older than from 2018 and with sample sizes between N = 1677 for Chad and N = 63876 for Bangladesh. To make the evaluation more manageable and the selected countries comparable in size, random samples of N≈1,000 were drawn.

Results: The descriptive analysis revealed a SWB slightly higher by 0.42 for the Christian group at a level of 1.26 as compared to the Islamic group of countries at 0.84. A comparison of the single countries reveals a SWB level below zero for all three African countries irrespective of their Islamic or Christian orientation. The comparison of the influence of the independent variables reveals a different pattern for the two groupings: In both groups regionality has the highest influence but followed in the Islamic group by ‘given birth’ and ‘Married or in Union’ whereas in the Christian group the next important independent variables are ‘Education’ and ‘Gender related discrimination’.

Discussion: Most of the group differences are due to the more developed predominantly Christian countries Georgia and Serbia, especially with regard to the GDP and the Human Freedom Index. The Islamic countries range considerably better with regard to the Charity ranking and have a much lower share of women employed in the labor force.

Conclusions: Based on our data, female happiness in both religious groups is not determined by the dominant religious orientation. Possible restrictions imposed, e.g., by the economic welfare or educational level are obviously compensated in the majority of the female population.

Keywords: Gender, Happiness, Islam, Christianity, Subjective Well-being.

Source of funding: None declared

Conflict of interest: None declared

DOI: 10.61034-JGPOH/2023-4