Map of the Week - Gender and self-esteem
How much do you love yourself today?
If you are a British woman, the chances are that the answer is: a lot less than most British men.
My Map of the Week comes, once again, from the fascinating National Accounts of Well-being site. This time, I thought we might consider "self-esteem" across Europe. And what a curious tale it tells.
Self-esteem in Europe; source: National Accounts of Well-being
Broadly, the UK is slightly less self-confident than other parts of Europe, with the Spanish and Germans the most self-assured of our continental neighbours. Out of 22 nations, we come fifteenth overall.
What is clear, however, is the gender gap in Britain. While the blokes are pretty much average in European terms, women have a much lower score. A score of five is average; men are 5.02 and women are just 4.35.
Male self-esteem in Europe; source: National Accounts of Well-being
Female self-esteem in Europe; source: National Accounts of Well-being
This could be dismissed as classic Venus and Mars stuff: men tend to be cocksure and boastful while women are more humble and reserved. But the difference between the genders varies quite a bit.
While French women are a giant eight points below their male counterparts in terms of self-esteem, in Ireland the difference is just two. And intriguingly, Ukrainian women outscore their men, if only just: 4.54 to 4.53.
Could this be a language issue? The results are extrapolated from the European Social Survey in which pollsters ask how much people agree with statements such as:
• I generally feel that what I do in my life is valuable and worthwhile
• In general I feel very positive about myself
• At times I feel as if I am a failure
• On the whole my life is close to how I would like it to be
I don't know whether such phrases have different connotations in different cultures. Does the word "failure" evoke something more or less dramatic in Spanish, Finnish or Flemish? It does seem surprising, to me at least, that the happiest European nations on so many measures do so badly on self-esteem.
The Nordic and the Scandinavians score particularly poorly, with Finland, Norway and Sweden appearing in the bottom four or five and well below the European average. Are happiness and humility linked?
Looking at the self-esteem of different generations is instructive too.
Self-esteem in Europe among those aged 25-34; source: National Accounts of Well-being
Self-esteem in Europe among those aged 75+; source: National Accounts of Well-being
In Britain, the 25-to-34-year-olds scored just 4.44 (below average), while our senior citizens over the age of 75 got 5.45 (well above).
There is something going on here, but I can't work out what it is and would be grateful for your help.
One thing we do know is that self-belief, self-confidence and self-esteem are vital qualities for people in a crisis. So how we think of ourselves is going to be an important factor in how we find our way through the economic gloom.