Gender, risk perceptions, and smoking behavior
The underlying reasons for gender differences in smoking behavior, and thus for the recent trends, are not well understood. Using a sample of 8592 Swedish adolescents aged 15-18, this paper contributes to the literature by exploring gender differences in smoking risk perceptions and in the responses to the latter. The results show significant gender differences in the perception of smoking mortality risk and in the perception of the addictiveness of smoking. Girls perceive the mortality risk of smoking as significantly greater than boys do, but they also perceive the addictiveness of cigarettes as less. These results persist after controlling for a wide range of background characteristics, including smoking risk information sources. Moreover, the findings suggest that while smoking information from sources such as teachers, pals, and own search, affect smoking mortality perceptions in a significant and positive manner among boys, no such effects are obtained among girls. Finally, our results show that both boys and girls take both the addictiveness and mortality risk of smoking into account when making their smoking decision. Moreover, the magnitude of the response is similar among boys and girls. This is in contrast to the general belief that females dislike risks to a greater extent than males.
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