Departmental Papers (SPP)

The Gender Gap Among Teen Survey Respondents: Why Are Boys More Likely to Report a Gun in the Home Than Girls?

Philip J. Cook
Susan B. Sorenson, University of Pennsylvania

Document Type Journal Article

This paper is a duplicate of and was removed.


It is a reliable feature of national surveys that include items on gun ownership that wives are less likely to report a gun in the home than husbands. In this article we extend the inquiry regarding this gender gap in reporting of household guns to include adolescent children (age 12-17 years). The California Health Interview Survey of 2001, the largest-ever state survey of its kind, includes over 4,000 marital households in which both a parent and adolescent child were interviewed and asked whether there was a gun in the home. There is little “age gap” in reporting – California teens are almost as likely to say that there is a gun as are their parents – but there is a gender gap among both the teens and their parents. We also find a large gap in personal experience with guns – boys are three times as likely to report hunting or shooting with a family member than girls. This difference in experience mediates the gender gap in reporting, as does living in a rural area and ethnicity.

The relevance of these findings for survey design is clear. The gender of the respondent has a substantial effect on the likelihood of reporting a gun kept in the home. That differential reporting bias will affect estimates of the patterns and prevalence of gun ownership, and, potentially, the accuracy of case-control studies that use self-report information about guns in the home.


Date Posted: 11 July 2013

This document has been peer reviewed.