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Does money matter?

A new survey shows it's dirhams that make men happy, writes Eve Dugdale

Everyday there's a new tale of financial woe. And as the world grapples with a global recession and financial markets remain volatile, many people are reminding themselves of what's really important. For some it's their health, for many it's their family. A lot of people would say having friends to depend on, a job they enjoy and living in a safe country is essential.

After all, money can't buy happiness can it? Well, according to men it can. Results of a global happiness survey from The Nielsen Company reveal that men are happier with money, while women are happier with friendships and relationships with their children, co-workers and bosses. The 'Happiness Survey', which polled 28,153 respondents on line, found that globally women are happier than men in 48 out of the 51 countries - including the UAE.

Researchers say because women are happier with non-economic factors, making them 'recession proof', that's why, at this moment in time, around the world the female species is happier than its male counterpart. Only in Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam were men found to be happier than women. Women are also more optimistic about the future, scoring higher than men on predictions of their happiness in the next six months. But it's not a materialistic attitude that prompts men to put such an importance on the shiny stuff.

According to Doctor Raymond Hamden, psychologist and director of Dubai's Human Relations Institute, it's an inbuilt need to look after their families and nowadays it's money that helps them do this. "Men provide and protect, women nourish and bond. This is based on knowledge that people have handed down from generation to generation," he says.

"For 13 years, with the sophistication of FMRI (functional magnetic resonance imagery), we've been able to show the changes that are taking place in the chemicals as well as electronical episodes in the synopsis of the brain. So, we know, from hormone tests with endocrinologists the male species is designed to provide and protect and women are designed to nourish and bond."

Doctor Hamden says knowing he has money helps a man feel masculine and gives him a feeling of being in control "The male may look for money as a symbol of power to prove his manliness to provide. A woman, who focuses on the nourishment and bonding of relationships, would focus on intimacy such as emotional connections between people."

The survey also found that here in the UAE, men are generally happier with their physical and mental health than women. They also value their personal financial situation, job and career.

Women, on the other hand, tended to be more satisfied than men with their personal, religious and spiritual beliefs, their access to healthcare and the variety of places available for them to shop.

We asked a young couple what their opinion of the findings were. Adrian, 32, a recruitment consultant agrees with Doctor Hamden's idea. "Men need to make money to make the woman happy! If the man didn't have any money for food and kids and bills then he'd get in trouble. I wouldn't want to have a nice house and not be able to buy my kids a steak so money is important," he says.

Eleanor, 28, a PR consultant says: "I would agree with the survey. I know that I'm happy to live on a limited budget but I can't cope if I have an argument with a friend or my partner, so that suggests to me that I do value relationships. "Men don't seem to bother about the importance of intimate friendships as much as women do and generally most men do talk about money a great deal so that proves the findings really."

Doctor Hamden says it's ridiculous to say that men are only bothered about money and women are only interested in relationships. He says the research is flawed because it does not explain why men place such an importance on money - to provide for their families. "We know it's not just limited to men to materialistically seek money and for women to emotionally seek relationships. Both gender can experience both aspects of the continuum.

"You don't have to be a man to appreciate money and you don't have to be a woman to appreciate bonding - both can do either - it's just that the way the hypothesis was set up in this survey would determine the results."

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 2, 2009
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