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Locus of control and the gender gap in mental health

Sefa Awaworyi Churchill, Musharavati Ephraim Munyanyi, Kushneel Prakash and Russell Smyth ()

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2020, vol. 178, issue C, 740-758

Abstract: We examine whether gender differences in locus of control (LoC) explain gender gaps in mental health using longitudinal data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. We find that gender differences in LoC is an important factor contributing to the well-recognised gender gap in mental health in favour of males. Our preferred estimates, that take into account differences in the distribution of characteristics of males and females, suggest that at the mean a unit increase in internal LoC for females would narrow the mental health gender gap by 2.2% and that if LoC of women were the same as that of men, it could close the gender gap in mental health by as much as 18.8%. This general conclusion is generally robust to evaluating the gender gap at the 10th and 90th quantile and a suite of sensitivity checks including different ways of measuring key variables and alternative approaches to the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition. Our findings suggest that resilience education programs that teach positive control beliefs to children should be designed particularly with girls in mind and in such a way as to encourage participation by girls.

Keywords: Gender gaps; Mental health; Locus of control; Australia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D03 I19 I3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:178:y:2020:i:c:p:740-758

DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2020.08.013

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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