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The self-esteem gap between Western men and women is the worst in the world

AP/Evan Agostini/Invision
Something isn’t quite helping women’s self-esteem.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Self-confidence is hard to build—though perhaps not for everyone.

Decades of studies that have been focusing on defining self-esteem—”an individual’s subjective evaluation of his or her worth as a person”—by observing its dynamics in the US and other developed Western nations. But a recent paper published in December in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology confirms that there is a difference between the genders, as men tend to have a higher self-esteem than women, especially during the teenage years and early adulthood.

Interestingly, the gender gap appears a lot more marked in Western 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,” Wiebke Bleidorn, professor at the University of California, Davis and the lead author of the study, told the American Psychology Association.

The study surveyed nearly a million men and women aged 16-45 across 48 countries. Wiebke and her colleagues have represented the findings of their research in an interactive map showing the gap between male and female self-esteem:

While in many countries the difference tends to move down the scale (from blue to pink), all the countries where the gap between men and women is smaller are concentrated outside the Western world, with the exception of Finland; in many countries, the gap between men and women increased with age.

“It suggests that there might be cultural factors that in developed, prosperous countries are leading to relatively bigger differences between men and women’s self-esteem,” Wiebke told Quartz.

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