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Cross-national differences in the gender gap in subjective health in Europe: Does country-level gender equality matter?

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  • Dahlin, Johanna
  • Härkönen, Juho

Abstract

Multiple studies have found that women report being in worse health despite living longer. Gender gaps vary cross-nationally, but relatively little is known about the causes of comparative differences. Existing literature is inconclusive as to whether gender gaps in health are smaller in more gender equal societies. We analyze gender gaps in self-rated health (SRH) and limiting longstanding illness (LLI) with five waves of European Social Survey data for 191,104 respondents from 28 countries. We use means, odds ratios, logistic regressions, and multilevel random slopes logistic regressions. Gender gaps in subjective health vary visibly across Europe. In many countries (especially in Eastern and Southern Europe), women report distinctly worse health, while in others (such as Estonia, Finland, and Great Britain) there are small or no differences. Logistic regressions ran separately for each country revealed that individual-level socioeconomic and demographic variables explain a majority of these gaps in some countries, but contribute little to their understanding in most countries. In yet other countries, men had worse health when these variables were controlled for. Cross-national variation in the gender gaps exists after accounting for individual-level factors. Against expectations, the remaining gaps are not systematically related to societal-level gender inequality in the multilevel analyses. Our findings stress persistent cross-national variability in gender gaps in health and call for further analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Dahlin, Johanna & Härkönen, Juho, 2013. "Cross-national differences in the gender gap in subjective health in Europe: Does country-level gender equality matter?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 24-28.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:98:y:2013:i:c:p:24-28
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.08.028
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Palència, Laia & Malmusi, Davide & De Moortel, Deborah & Artazcoz, Lucía & Backhans, Mona & Vanroelen, Christophe & Borrell, Carme, 2014. "The influence of gender equality policies on gender inequalities in health in Europe," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 25-33.
    2. Mine Kühn & Christian Dudel & Tobias C. Vogt & Anna Oksuzyan, 2017. "Trends in gender differences in health and mortality at working ages among West and East Germans," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2017-009, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.

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