Just Sociology

Bridging Development Gaps: Exploring Gender Equality, Academic Performance, Happiness, and Peace in Countries

Cross-national research has become an essential tool for evaluating the similarities and differences that exist among different countries. By comparing diverse national contexts, researchers can obtain new insights about social phenomena and theory, and explore questions that transcend national borders.

In this article, we will examine the strengths and limitations of cross-national comparisons as well as how to select research questions suited to this methodology. Additionally, we will explore the question of why some countries are richer than others, examining how researchers use Gross National Income per Capita to identify commonalities among countries of different income levels.

Strengths and Limitations of Cross-National Comparisons

The main strength of cross-national research is that it allows researchers to compare social phenomena across multiple countries, providing insights into cultural, political, and economic differences between nations. This can be valuable for understanding how social structures and frameworks are shaped by different government policies, historical contexts, and geographic locations.

Additionally, cross-national comparisons gain greater statistical power and precision by increasing sample size and reducing the likelihood of biased data. However, there are a few limitations to cross-national research.

Firstly, data comparability is not always absolute. Obtaining consistent data across different countries is often challenging, especially when it comes to data accuracy, sampling, and the translation of survey instruments.

Secondly, cross-national research presents issues with social and cultural context. The meaning for certain behaviors, opinions, or attitudes can change with culture and context, and cannot be measured by direct comparison.

Thirdly, inattentive causal inference may be detrimental to cross-national findings. The complex causation that underlies social phenomena cannot be attributed solely to national differences, potentially leading to erroneous conclusions.

Selecting a question for Cross-National Research

In selecting research questions suited to cross-national research, researchers should identify issues that transcend national boundaries, for example, the causes of global warming, the effectiveness of border control policy, or the spread of democratic governance. This methodology is useful when there is interest in testing theories or hypotheses within multiple contexts or when the examination of the macro-level influences is desired.

However, all questions are not suitable for cross-national research. When a research question deals with given social behavior or individual agency, then it is highly contextual and subject to the cultural, political, and economic differences present within a region.

Examining Gross National Income per Capita

Gross National Income per Capita (GNIPC) is a popular method of measuring country wealth and economic development across the world. This metric focuses on the total value of goods and services produced within an economy over the course of a year and is then measured on a per-capita basis.

Using this measurement tool, we can divide all countries in the world into three groups: the top 10 countries (highest GNIPC), the bottom 10 countries (lowest GNIPC), and the middle 10 countries. For instance, research indicates that the top 10 countries (which comprise of Japan, Switzerland, Australia, and the USA, among others) have a high standard of living, income, and working conditions.

Contrarily, the bottom 10 countries (Central African Republic, South Sudan, Burundi, Somalia, and others) may have the lowest GNIPC globally, resulting in reduced life expectancy, social instability, and deprivation. Finally, the middle 10 countries have a variable mix of economic, social, and political structures, resulting in dynamic and diverse outcomes.

Thus, researchers have used this type of analysis to understand why some countries are more economically developed than others.

Identifying Commonalities among Countries of Different Income Levels

Numerous theories exist to explain why some countries are richer than others. One such theory is Rostow’s Modernization Theory, which depicts economic growth as evolving through five stages, starting from agrarian self-sufficiency to a post-industrial knowledge-based society.

Another theory, the Dependency Theory, suggests that wealthy countries have enriched themselves at the expense of poorer countries, and that dependency makes it difficult for a nation to achieve self-sufficient economic growth. Though there are substantial debates concerning the validity of these theories, it is important to identify parallels between countries of different income levels through cross-national research to understand the issues of economic and social factors behind these developmental disparities.


To conclude, cross-national research offers a valuable tool for identifying similarities, differences, and causal influences between nations. In addition, conducting research in various international contexts facilitates more robust and insightful analyses of how socioeconomic, cultural, and political systems impacts life on a global scale.

We explored the strengths and limitations of cross-national research, discussed how to select research questions suited to this methodology, and examined how researchers use GNIPC to identify the commonalities among countries of different income levels. The study of economic development leads to numerous theories for economic growth and development, with Rostow’s Modernization Theory and Dependency Theory being two of the most prevalent.Gender equality and academic performance are significant factors that contribute to the growth and development of a country.

High levels of gender equality tend to correlate with lower social inequality, better economic performance, and improved outcomes on sustainable development goals. Additionally, academic performance is essential as it affects economic competitiveness, innovation, and a host of other national outcomes.

In this article, we will explore why some countries have higher levels of gender equality than others, analyzing the Global Gender Gap Report and identifying commonalities among countries of different gender equality levels. Furthermore, we will examine why some countries perform better than others in the PISA test, exploring the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and identifying theories to explain performance variations among countries.

Exploring the Global Gender Gap Report

The Global Gender Gap Report, published annually by the World Economic Forum, evaluates gender equality across 155 countries, measuring gender parity across four fundamental areas: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The report computes an overall gender gap index score, ranking countries accordingly.

In the latest report, the top 10 countries in the index include Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Rwanda. These countries tend to have better health care systems, fewer rates of gender-based violence, and better representation in parliament.

Conversely, the bottom 10 countries include Yemen, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria, among others, which tend to have large gender disparities in education, health, and politics. Additionally, the middle 10 countries, such as India, South Africa, and China, experience a gender gap in varying measures for each criterion, exhibiting more extensive socio-cultural differences.

Comparing and contrasting countries on the indicators used to evaluate gender parity not only highlights global gender equality differences but also showcases country-level disparities.

Identifying Commonalities among Countries of Different Gender Equality Levels

Several theories explain differences in gender equality levels among countries. For instance, the Cultural Relativism theory posits that gender equality is influenced by a countrys cultural and social context.

Countries with a strong patriarchy or cultural endorsement of gender roles tend to experience a significantly high gender gap, with women being held back from social, economic, and political participation. The Modernization Theory, on the other hand, posits that a country’s path to socioeconomic development is imperative to achieving gender parity.

In this theory, economic development precedes social and political development, with gender equality being a natural consequence of material advancement. The theories mentioned above showcase a correlation between gender equality levels and how political power and economic resources are distributed.

Another theory, Gender Mainstreaming, argues that gender inequality is a result of societal bifurcation and stresses that it is important for policies to consider gender while addressing social issues such as poverty, education, health care, and employment.

Examining the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

PISA is a program developed by the OECD to evaluate educational systems across the world. In this triennial test, students complete tests in the areas of reading, mathematics, and science, and are then ranked accordingly.

The results of the PISA test are presented in national league tables that compare student performance across different educational systems. The 2018 test reported China as the highest-performing country with an average score of 555 in Mathematics, Science, and Reading.

Other high-performing countries include Singapore, Macau, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. Conversely, some countries, such as countries in sub-Saharan Africa, struggle with low PISA scores due to resource constraints, inadequate schools, and inadequate policies.

Identifying Reasons for Variations in Students’ Test Scores among Countries

Several theories explain why some countries perform better in PISA tests. One conceivable reason that has been highlighted in PISA research is the homogeneity of curricula, teaching practices, and standards.

Countries that perform well tend to have a defined educational approach with a clear understanding of learning outcomes, whereas countries that do not perform as well tend to have diverse educational systems and methods, leading to varied results. Another theory is that countries with a robust educational infrastructure tend to perform better than those without.

This is largely due to investments in schools, teachers, and resources, which help provide students with the necessary tools for achieving academic success. Funding for teacher training or education research could also provide important insights into how to improve student performance.

Additionally, some researchers suggest that there is a link between education and a country’s socioeconomic status, with wealthier countries being more successful in PISA tests. In these countries, students may have access to better schools, technologies, and methodologies that support high levels of achievement.


In conclusion, gender equality, and academic performance are critical to the progressive growth and development of a country. By comparing gender equality levels through the Global Gender Gap Report and academic achievement via the PISA test, researchers gain insights on the crucial factors that influence these societal structures.

We explored the Global Gender Gap Report, PISA test, identified theories to forecast performance variations among countries, and discussed research findings backing up these theories. These insights can help policymakers, educators, and civil society stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms connected to these influential socioeconomic determinates.The happiness and peacefulness of a country are crucial factors when evaluating its overall wellbeing.

Happiness refers to the overall emotion of pleasure and satisfaction that citizens experience over certain life circumstances, including social relationships, economic conditions, and personal functioning. Similarly, peacefulness refers to the absence of violent conflict or societal unrest.

The Global Happiness Report and the Global Peace Index are two leading measures that assess the happiness and peacefulness of countries around the world, evaluating factors such as income, life expectancy, social support, and levels of conflict. In this article, we will explore why some countries are happier than others by analyzing the World Happiness Report and identifying reasons for happiness variation among nations.

Additionally, we will examine why some countries are more peaceful than others by exploring the Global Peace Index, and identifying reasons for variations in peacefulness levels among countries.

Exploring the World Happiness Report

The World Happiness Report is published annually by the United Nations, ranking countries based on their overall level of happiness. The report monitors happiness across six key variables: income, social support, life expectancy, freedom, trust, and generosity.

The 2021 report lists Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, and the Netherlands as the top five happiest countries. The report suggests that countries that prioritize their citizens’ social welfare, education, and healthcare tend to score higher in happiness rankings.

Conversely, countries that experience long-lasting socio-political instability tend to score lower on happiness indices, such as Yemen, Afghanistan, and Zimbabwe.

Happiness research has shown that beyond socio-economic determinants, individual factors such as health, relationships, happiness mindset, and spirituality significantly affect an individual’s overall happiness.

Societal factors such as strong social networks, both business and personal, local communities, and stress management can also contribute to a nation’s overall happiness.

Identifying Reasons for Variations in Levels of Happiness among Countries

One theory that explains why people in some countries are happier than in others is known as the Relative Income Hypothesis. It suggests that individuals’ happiness depends less on their absolute income but more on how their income compares with others in the same social structure.

Thus, societal inequality can be harmful, and investment in equitable policies reduce the inequality gap that leads citizens to social and emotional disconnection. A more practical theory, the Social Learning Theory, suggests that individuals learn broader attitudes and norms from their social surroundings, including family, religion, schools, and media.

Moreover, Social Identity Theory explains that beyond relative and absolute income, people’s sense of belonging and identity are fundamental to overall happiness in a society. Adequate representation and emphasis on individual security can also impact overall happiness.

However, it is essential to consider that socio-cultural perspectives will vary globally.

Examining the Global Peace Index

The Global Peace Index (GPI) measures the relative peacefulness of countries and regions based on factors such as the number of internal and external conflicts, the quality of governance, and the level of militarization. The 2021 report lists Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal, Austria, and Denmark as the top five most peaceful countries.

Conversely, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, and Yemen are among the least peaceful countries. Additionally, the study suggests that countries with lower levels of militarization, inclusive society, excellent governance education, and a strong business economy have a greater chance of being peaceful.

Identifying Reasons for Variations in Levels of Peacefulness among Countries

One of the significant theories in understanding the causality for peace is the democratic peace theory. The theory argues that democratic governance and the absence of institutional corruption tend to foster a peaceful environment in societies.

Democratic societies have agreed institutional frameworks for the delineation of authority between individuals, businesses, civil society, and the state. These institutions provide a platform for public consultations and free press, which improve inter-institutional vigilance and increase public involvement in party politics.

Another vital theory is the Institutional Peace Theory, which argues that investing in peaceful institutions, including legal systems, rule of law, and community safety can lead to increased peace in society. Research indicates that an inclusive and transparent governance system, supported by well-trained security agencies with a strong precedent for human rights, can deter individuals and groups from engaging in violence as an option for a solution to their grievances.


In conclusion, happiness and peace hold a fundamental place in the progress and well-being of a region or a country. Countries that have sound socio-political policies, equitable distribution of resources, and a strong institution structure tend to be the most peaceful and happiest countries worldwide.

This article explored the Global Happiness Report and the Global Peace Index, identified the reasons for variations in happiness and peacefulness levels among countries, and highlighted theories that explain the gaps. Policymakers globally must prioritize sustainable development goals to strengthen their education and healthcare systems to impact overall levels of happiness and peace.

In conclusion, this article explored the reasons why some countries have higher levels of gender equality, academic performance, happiness, and peace than others. We delved into various reports and indices that measure these factors and identified theories that explain the disparities.

Understanding these factors is essential for policymakers globally, as they seek to improve their developmental goals and strengthen society’s structures. By prioritizing equitable policies, investment in education and healthcare, forming peaceful institutions, sustainable democratization, we can bridge these gaps and achieve greater progress in these areas.


Q: What is cross-national research, and what are its strengths and limitations? A: Cross-national research allows researchers to compare social phenomena across countries, providing insights into cultural, political, and economic differences, but obtaining consistent data and contextual issues pose limitations.

Q: What is the Gross National Income per Capita, and how does it help explain the wealth and economic development of countries? A: Gross National Income per Capita is the total value of goods and services produced in an economy per person per year, which helps explain why some countries are more economically developed than others.

Q: What is the Biases and Theory of PISA test? A: Researchers believe that the homogeneity of curricula and strong educational infrastructure lead to better performance in PISA tests, while the weak educational infrastructure and socio-economic issues leading to less investment in schools and student support are factors hindering

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