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Risk Taking and Gender in Hierarchies

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  • Scotchmer, Suzanne

Abstract

If promotion in a hierarchy is based on a random signal of ability, rates of promotion are affected by risk-taking. Further, the statistical properties of the surviving populations of risk-takers and non-risk-takers will be different, and will be changing throughout the hierarchy. I define promotion hierarchies with and without memory, where memory means that promotion depends on the entire history of success. In both types of hierarchies, surviving risk-takers have lower average ability than surviving non risk-takers at any stage where they have a higher probability of survival. However, that will not apply in the limit. With a common set of promotion standards, risk-takers will survive with lower probability than non risk-takers, and will have higher average ability. I give several interpretations for how these theorems relate to affirmative action, in light of considerable evidence that males are more risk-taking than females.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt2tm5m16f.

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Date of creation: 30 Jul 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt2tm5m16f

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Keywords: labor markets; promotion; discrimination; affirmative action; hierarchy; risk taking; gender bias;

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  1. Lundberg, Shelly J, 1991. "The Enforcement of Equal Opportunity Laws under Imperfect Information: Affirmative Action and Alternatives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(1), pages 309-26, February.
  2. Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Gardeazabal, Javier, 2005. "On the strategic equivalence of multiple-choice test scoring rules," DFAEII Working Papers 2005-20, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
  3. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Sex and Risk: Experimental Evidence," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series archive-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  4. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Forecasting Risk Attitudes: An Experimental Study Using Actual and Forecast Gamble Choices," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series archive-01, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  5. David Neumark & Harry Holzer, 2000. "Assessing Affirmative Action," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 483-568, September.
  6. Sobel, Joel, 2001. "On the Dynamics of Standards," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(4), pages 606-23, Winter.
  7. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-30, October.
  8. Milgrom, Paul & Oster, Sharon, 1987. "Job Discrimination, Market Forces, and the Invisibility Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 453-76, August.
  9. Lundberg, Shelly J & Startz, Richard, 1983. "Private Discrimination and Social Intervention in Competitive Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 340-47, June.
  10. Dekel, Eddie & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1999. "On the Evolution of Attitudes towards Risk in Winner-Take-All Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 125-143, July.
  11. Joseph E. Harrington & Jr., 1999. "Rigidity of Social Systems," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 40-64, February.
  12. Bardsley Peter & Sherstyuk Katerina, 2006. "Rat Races and Glass Ceilings," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-35, November.
  13. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2002. "Sex Differences and Statistical Stereotyping in Attitudes Toward Financial Risk," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series archive-03, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  14. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & Nancy Lutz & V. Padmanbhan, 1997. "Playing it Safe: Men, Women, and Risk Aversion," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series archive-42, Monash University, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Gardeazabal, Javier, 2005. "On the strategic equivalence of multiple-choice test scoring rules," DFAEII Working Papers 2005-20, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.

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