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Men have higher self-esteem than women — worldwide

Thursday, February 04, 2016  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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Self-esteem increases with age, from adolescence to adulthood in people around the world, but at every age, men tend to have higher levels of self-esteem than women — and the gap has no correlation with economic empowerment, according to a survey of nearly 1 million men and women ages 16 to 45 from 48 countries.

"Individualistic, prosperous, egalitarian, developed nations with higher gender equality had larger gender gaps in self-esteem than collectivist, poorer, developing nations with greater gender inequality,” said Wiebke Bleidorn of the University of California, Davis, lead author of "Age and Gender Differences in Self-Esteem — A Cross-Cultural Window.”

Specific cultural influences likely guide self-esteem development, according to Bleidorn. Gender differences were small in many Asian countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia and India, but were relatively larger in countries like the United Kingdom or the Netherlands. "Women in Western cultures are more likely to compare themselves to men,” Bleidorn told, "whereas in Asian countries, women compare themselves to women.”

This absolute gender gap notwithstanding, both males and females seem to follow essentially the same life span trajectories. For both genders, self-esteem is relatively high in childhood, drops during adolescence, and rises gradually throughout adulthood before it tends to decline in old age, according to the report.

Download the report

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