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Gender, risk perceptions, and smoking behavior

  • Lundborg, Petter
  • Andersson, Henrik

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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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 27 (2008)
Issue (Month): 5 (September)
Pages: 1299-1311

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:27:y:2008:i:5:p:1299-1311
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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  1. Andersson, Henrik & Lundborg, Petter, 2006. "Perception of Own Death Risk: An Analysis of Road-Traffic and Overall Mortality Risks," Working Papers 2006:1, Swedish National Road & Transport Research Institute (VTI).
  2. Orphanides, Athanasios & Zervos, David, 1995. "Rational Addiction with Learning and Regret," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 739-58, August.
  3. Steven Yen, 2005. "Zero observations and gender differences in cigarette consumption," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(16), pages 1839-1849.
  4. David M. Cutler & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "Education and Health: Evaluating Theories and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 12352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Petter Lundborg & Bj–rn Lindgren, 2004. "Do They Know What They are Doing? Risk Perceptions and Smoking Behaviour Among Swedish Teenagers," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 261-286, 05.
  6. Hersch, Joni, 2000. " Gender, Income Levels, and the Demand for Cigarettes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 21(2-3), pages 263-82, November.
  7. Lundborg, Petter & Lindgren, Bjorn, 2002. " Risk Perceptions and Alcohol Consumption among Young People," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 165-83, September.
  8. Hersch, Joni, 1998. "Compensating Differentials for Gender-Specific Job Injury Risks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 598-627, June.
  9. Viscusi, W Kip, 1991. "Age Variations in Risk Perceptions and Smoking Decisions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(4), pages 577-88, November.
  10. Fred C. Pampel, 2002. "Cigarette Use and the Narrowing Sex Differential in Mortality," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(1), pages 77-104.
  11. Lundborg, Petter, 2006. "Having the wrong friends? Peer effects in adolescent substance use," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 214-233, March.
  12. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-30, October.
  13. Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Do Smokers Underestimate Risks?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1253-69, December.
  14. Petter Lundborg, 2007. "Smoking, information sources, and risk perceptions—New results on Swedish data," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 217-240, June.
  15. Gruber, Jonathan & Frakes, Michael, 2006. "Does falling smoking lead to rising obesity?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 183-197, March.
  16. Antonanzas, Fernando, et al, 2000. " Smoking Risks in Spain: Part I--Perception of Risks to the Smoker," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 21(2-3), pages 161-86, November.
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