This study examined the gender and age differences in social inequality on life satisfaction among adolescents in 41 countries. Representative samples of adolescents aged 11⁻15 years from 41 countries were surveyed using the Health Behaviour Study among School-aged Children 2013/2014 (HBSC) questionnaire and research protocol. A Relative Index of Inequality (RII) estimated from the Poisson regression was employed to measure the level of social inequality. Family affluence was significantly positively associated with higher adolescent life satisfaction in nearly all countries (RII = 1.344; 95% confidence interval: 1.330⁻1.359). The average RII values for boys and girls were almost equal (1.318) and did not differ significantly across 11-, 13- and 15-year-old groups (1.373, 1.324 and 1.342, respectively). However, the gender and age differences in this association were controversial across countries. An analysis of data by countries revealed that among students from Israel, Italy and Ireland (in seven countries altogether), social inequality in life satisfaction (LS) was significantly greater for girls, while among students from Norway, the Republic of Moldova and the Czech Republic (in 20 countries altogether), social inequality in LS was significantly greater among boys; in 14 countries, the RII value did not significantly differ between boys and girls. Comparing social inequality in LS between 11- and 15-year-olds, in nine countries (e.g., Belgium-Flemish, Czech Republic, Netherlands) the RII was significantly greater among 15-year-olds, in 16 countries (e.g., Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Spain) the RII was significantly greater among 11-year-olds, and in 16 countries there were no significant differences in RII values. In conclusion, social inequality in adolescent LS differs between boys and girls and between age groups, providing substantial variation in these differences across countries.
Keywords: HBSC; adolescents; family affluence; life satisfaction; social inequality.