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Self-Reported Health and Gender: the Role of Social Norms

Listed author(s):
  • Caroli, Eve
  • Weber-Baghdiguian, Lexane

We investigate the role of social norms in accounting for differences in self-reported health as reported by men and women. Using the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS, 2010), we first replicate the standard result that women report worse health than men, whatever the health outcome we consider – i.e. general self-assessed health, well-being but also more specific symptoms such as hearing problems, skin problems, backache, muscular pain in upper or lower limbs, headache and eyestrain, stomach ache, respiratory difficulties, depression and anxiety, fatigue and insomnia. We then proxy social norms by the gender structure of the workplace environment and study how the latter affects self-reported health for men and women separately. Our findings indicate that individuals in workplaces where women are a majority tend to report worse health than individuals employed in mixed-gender work environments, be they men or women. The opposite holds for individuals in workplaces where men are a majority: men tend to report fewer health problems than when employed in mixed-gender environments and the same goes for women – although the effects are not significant at conventional levels. These results are robust to controlling for a large array of working condition indicators, which allows us to rule out that the poorer health status reported by individuals working in female-dominated environments could be due to worse job quality. We interpret this evidence as suggesting that social norms associated with specific gender environments play an important role in explaining differences in health-reporting behaviours across sex, at least in the workplace.

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File URL: http://www.cepremap.fr/depot/docweb/docweb1517.pdf
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Paper provided by CEPREMAP in its series CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) with number 1517.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2015
Handle: RePEc:cpm:docweb:1517
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