Does Personality Confound the Relationship between Health and Relative Deprivation? Evidence from Costa Rica

Sepideh Modrek, Stanford University
Luis Rosero-Bixby, Universidad de Costa Rica
William H. Dow, University of California, Berkeley

Income inequality and measures of relative deprivation have been found to be associated with self-reported health, mortality and morbidity. Yet there remains much skepticism about the validity of these relationships as causal. It has been hypothesized that social circumstance gets "under one’s skin” through a stress response, which may be highly related to one’s personality or disposition. Therefore, we evaluate whether personality traits confound the relationship between relative deprivation and health outcomes in an elderly population of Costa Rican. We find that locus of control and fatalistic beliefs are important predictors of poor mental health and poor self-reported health, but relative deprivation is not related to these outcomes. In contrast, relative deprivation was found to be a predictor of smoking and drinking health behaviors, but these relations do not appear to be confounded by locus of control or sense of fatalism.

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Presented in Session 52: Personality, Cognition and Health