Who’s Happier: Boys or Girls?
A report released last week from the World Health Organization reporting on adolescent health and happiness was based on surveys of more than 200,000 young people in 42 countries in Europe and North America (U.S. not included).
It’s full of interesting facts:
Belgian and Polish adolescents are among the least happy in Europe. More than half the teenagers in Greenland smoke. Eastern European boys are far more likely than girls to have had sex.
Overall, the report found that teenage girls were perhaps the worst off of any group surveyed. 15-year-old Polish, British and French girls were among those expressing the least satisfaction with their lives. 1 in 5 reported poor or fair health, and they indicated increased levels of dissatisfaction with their bodies (especially those in western cultures) – even though actual levels of overweight and obesity have remained stable.
On the other hand, boys reported higher life satisfaction.
Even so, the report highlighted some elevated risk factors for male adolescents. Boys were more likely to engage in physical fights and be injured. They smoked tobacco and drank alcohol more often, but those gender differences are beginning to narrow as girls are increasingly adopting what has been considered male behaviors.
The report concluded that policy makers should do everything possible to recognize girls’ unhappiness and find structural solutions, calling for efforts to address the “clear gender-difference issue.”