The term "gender gap" is most often used in the context of pay inequality, but new statistics show we should also be using it when discussing anxiety levels, too.
There is a significant "anxiety gap" between men and women in the UK and it has been widening in recent years, according to new figures on national wellbeing from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which questioned people over the age of 16.
In the year to September 2017, men gave themselves an average rating of 2.75 for anxiety, while for women the figure was 3.07. This disparity has increased in just half a decade; in the year 2011-12 the figures for men and women were 2.94 and 3.16 respectively. So in a nutshell, while everyone is less anxious, the gap between men and women has widened.
Previous research supports the idea that women are more likely to experience anxiety disorders than men. Scientists have explained this with both biological and psychological reasons, including differences between men and women's brain chemistry and hormone fluctuations, as well as the different way we react to stress, with women more likely to ruminate on their problems than men.
It's not all bad news for women, however. In the UK at least, they are happier and more satisfied with their lives than men. When asked to rate their lives out of 10, women gave themselves higher scores for life satisfaction (7.72), feelings of it being worthwhile (7.99) and happiness (7.54).
Meanwhile, men scored themselves 7.67 for life satisfaction, 7.76 for feelings of it being worthwhile and 7.5 for happiness.
In general, personal wellbeing is on the up in England – despite the wider socioeconomic and political uncertainty of Brexit and increased pressure on household budgets thanks to inflation and stagnant wages. Happiness levels in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland remain unchanged since last year, however.
"Factors such as people’s social connections and health status play an important part in personal wellbeing," said Silvia Manclossi, the head of the quality of life team at the ONS. "However, some economic factors are also important, so perhaps this trend over time is not surprising as the country came out of the economic downturn."
Importantly, she said the team would be looking into the inequalities between social groups, including the sexes, that have emerged from the data. "Will be exploring these further, looking at factors that may contribute to some groups of society having lower personal wellbeing.”
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