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Gender and cooperative behavior: economic man rides alone

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Author Info

  • Stephanie Seguino
  • Thomas Stevens
  • Mark Lutz

Abstract

Neoclassical theory posits an undifferentiated economic agent whose self-interested behavior promotes a tendency to free ride in the provision of public goods. Challenges to this rigid portrayal of human character have come from a variety of directions. A dozen years ago Gerald Marwell and Ruth Ames conducted experiments which showed that (virtually all male) economic graduate students tended to free ride significantly more than a mixed population of high school students. In this paper, we argue that gender may also influence the degree to which humans act in a self-interested versus cooperative manner. We test this hypothesis by replicating the Marwell and Ames experiments using a similar, albeit simplified, methodology, with a sample of only college students separated into economists and non-economists. After controlling for group size, gender, and exposure to economics courses, we find that a key factor affecting the level of cooperation is gender.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Feminist Economics.

Volume (Year): 2 (1996)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-21

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Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:2:y:1996:i:1:p:1-21

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Web page: http://www.tandfonline.com/RFEC20

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Related research

Keywords: Gender; cooperative behavior; free rider; altruism; public goods;

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Cited by:
  1. David Zetland & Marina Della Giusta, 2011. "Focal Points, Gender Norms and Reciprocation in Public Good Games," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2011-01, Henley Business School, Reading University.
  2. Lourdes Beneria, 1999. "Globalization, Gender And The Davos Man," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 61-83.
  3. Gillian Hewitson, 2001. "A Survey of Feminist Economics," Working Papers 2001.01, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
  4. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  5. Stephen Meier & Bruno Frey, 2004. "Do Business Students Make Good Citizens?," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 141-163.
  6. repec:rdg:wpaper:em-dp2011-01 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Bertrand, Marianne, 2011. "New Perspectives on Gender," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  8. Hussey, Andrew, 2011. "The effect of ethics on labor market success: Evidence from MBAs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 168-180.
  9. Ainhoa Jaramillo Gutiérrez & Nikolaos Georgantzis & Aurora García Gallego & Miguel Ginés Vilar, 2007. "Cultural And Risk-Related Determinants Of Gender Differences In Ultimatum Bargaining," Working Papers. Serie AD 2007-08, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  10. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, . "Political Economists are Neither Selfish nor Indoctrinated," IEW - Working Papers 069, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  11. Linda Kamas & Sandy Baum & Anne Preston, 2005. "Altruistic Responses of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks: Some Evidence from Dictator Games," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 551-562, Fall.
  12. Perugini, Marco & Tan, Jonathan H. W. & Zizzo, Daniel John, 2005. "Which is the More Predictable Gender? Public Good Contribution and Personality," Discussion Papers 236, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
  13. Wilfred Dolfsma, 2000. "Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy, edited by Charles K. Wilber," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(2), pages 153-157.
  14. Bram Cadsby, C. & Maynes, Elizabeth, 2005. "Gender, risk aversion, and the drawing power of equilibrium in an experimental corporate takeover game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 39-59, January.
  15. García-Gallego, Aurora & Georgantzís, Nikolaos & Jaramillo-Gutiérrez, Ainhoa, 2012. "Gender differences in ultimatum games: Despite rather than due to risk attitudes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 42-49.
  16. Lisa Anderson & Francis DiTraglia & Jeffrey Gerlach, 2011. "Measuring altruism in a public goods experiment: a comparison of U.S. and Czech subjects," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 426-437, September.
  17. Bussmann, Margit, 2009. "The Effect of Trade Openness on Women's Welfare and Work Life," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1027-1038, June.
  18. Brown, Kelly M. & Taylor, Laura O., 2000. "Do as you say, say as you do: evidence on gender differences in actual and stated contributions to public goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 127-139, September.

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