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Age differences in the reaction to incentives – do older people avoid competition?

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  • Sproten, Alec N.
  • Schwieren, Christiane
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    Abstract

    The “aging employee” has recently become a hot topic in many fields of behavioural research. With the aim to determine the effects of different incentive schemes (competition, social or increased monetary incentives) on performance of young and older subjects, we look at behaviour of a group of younger and older adults on a well-established real effort task. We show that older adults differ from younger adults in their performance in all conditions, but not in the improvement between conditions. The age difference in performance is however driven by women. While we replicate the gender difference in competitiveness found in the literature, we do not find a significant age difference in competitiveness. Social incentives have an at least as strong or even stronger effect on performance than increased monetary incentives. This effect is driven by men; women do not show an increase in performance with social incentives.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0522.

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    Date of creation: 17 Feb 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0522

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    Keywords: aging; competition; social production functions; experiment; incentives;

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    1. Gary Charness & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2007. "Cooperation, Competition, and Risk Attitudes: An Intergenerational Field and Laboratory Experiment," Post-Print halshs-00175061, HAL.
    2. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2008. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," NBER Working Papers 13727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Ranehill, Eva, 2009. "Outrunning the Gender Gap – Boys and Girls Compete Equally," SIFR Research Report Series 69, Institute for Financial Research.
    4. Müller, Julia & Schwieren, Christiane, 2011. "Can Personality Explain what is Underlying Women's Unwillingness to Compete?," Working Papers 0511, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    5. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2004. "Gender and Competition at a Young Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 377-381, May.
    6. Kovalchik, Stephanie & Camerer, Colin F. & Grether, David M. & Plott, Charles R. & Allman, John M., 2005. "Aging and decision making: a comparison between neurologically healthy elderly and young individuals," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 79-94, September.
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