Caroli E., Weber-Baghdiguian L. (2016), Self-Reported Health and Gender: the Role of Social Norms, Social Science & Medicine, 153, p. 220-229
The role of social norms in accounting for the different attitudes of men and women with respect to health is still an open issue. In this research, we investigate the role of social norms associated with specific gender environments in the workplace in accounting for differences in health-reporting behaviours across men and women. Using the 2010 European Working Conditions Survey, we build a database containing 30,124 observations. We first replicate the standard result that women report worse health than men, whatever the health outcome we consider. 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 male-dominated work environments, be they men or women. 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. This evidence suggests that social norms associated with specific gender environments play an important role in explaining differences in health-reporting behaviours across gender, at least in the workplace.