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Gender differences in risk behaviour: does nurture matter?

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  • Alison L. Booth
  • Patrick Nolen

Abstract

Women and men may differ in their propensity to choose a risky outcome because of innate preferences or because their innate preferences are modified by pressure to conform to gender-stereotypes. Single-sex environments are likely to modify students’ risk-taking preferences in economically important ways. To test this, our controlled experiment gave subjects an opportunity to choose a risky outcome – a real-stakes gamble with a higher expected monetary value than the alternative outcome with a certain payoff- and in which the sensitivity of observed risk choices to environmental factors could be explored. The results show that girls from single-sex schools are as likely to choose the real-stakes gamble as much as boys from either coed or single sex schools, and more likely than coed girls. Moreover, gender differences in preferences for risk-taking are sensitive to the gender mix of the experimental group, with girls being more likely to choose risky outcomes when assigned to all-girl groups. This suggests that observed gender differences in behaviour under uncertainty found in previous studies might reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 122 (2012)
Issue (Month): 558 (02)
Pages: F56-F78

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:122:y:2012:i:558:p:f56-f78

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Gender & decision-making
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-08-03 13:53:53
  2. Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?
    by Kevin Denny in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-07-29 15:00:00
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