Drinking is Different! Examining the Role of Locus of Control for Alcohol Consumption

SOEPpapers 1088, 37 S.

Marco Caliendo, Juliane Hennecke


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Unhealthy behavior can be extremely costly from a micro- and macroeconomic perspective and exploring the determinants of such behavior is highly important from an economist’s point of view. We examine whether locus of control (LOC) can explain alcohol consumption as an important domain of health behavior. LOC measures how much an individual believes in the causal relationship between her own actions and her life’s outcomes. While earlier literature showed that an increasing internal LOC is associated with increased health-conscious behavior in domains such as smoking, exercise or diets, we find that drinking seems to be different. Using German panel data, we find a significant positive effect of having an internal LOC on the probability of moderate and regular drinking. We discuss two likely mechanisms for this relationship and find interesting gender differences. While social investments play an important role for men and women, risk perceptions are especially relevant for men.

Themen: Gesundheit, Gender

JEL-Classification: I12;D91
Keywords: locus of control, alcohol consumption, health behavior, risk perception, social investment