IZA DP No. 12888: Employment vs. Homestay and the Happiness of Women in the South Caucasus
Modern women often face an uneasy choice: dedicating their time to reproductive household work, or joining the workforce and spending time away from home and household duties. Both choices are associated with benefits, as well as non-trivial costs, and necessarily involve some trade-offs, influencing the general feeling of happiness women experience given their decision. The trade-offs are especially pronounced in traditional developing countries, where both the pressure for women to stay at home and the need to earn additional income are strong, making the choice even more controversial. To understand the implications of this choice on the happiness of women in these types of countries we compare housewives and working women of the South Caucasus region. The rich data collected annually by the Caucasus Research Resource Center allows us to match working women with their housewife counterparts and to compare the level of happiness across the two groups – separately for each country as well as for Armenian and Azerbaijani minorities residing in Georgia. We find a significant negative happiness gap for working women in Armenia and in Azerbaijan, but not in Georgia. The absence of such a gap among the Armenian and Azerbaijani minorities of Georgia indicates that the gap is mostly a country- rather than an ethnicity-specific effect.