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The Impact of Female Sex Hormones on Competitiveness

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  • Thomas Buser

    ()
    (School of Economics, University of Amsterdam)

Abstract

We use fluctuations of female sex hormones occurring naturally over the menstrual cycle or induced by hormonal contraceptives to determine the importance of sex hormones in explaining gender differences in competitiveness. Participants in a laboratory experiment solve a simple arithmetics task first under a piece rate and then under a competitive tournament scheme. Subjects can then choose which compensation scheme to apply in a third round. We find that sex hormones have a strong effect on whether women select into the competitive environment. The observed patterns are consistent with a negative impact especially of progesterone on competitiveness and our results therefore provide a partial biological explanation for gender differences in competitiveness. We consider three possible indirect pathways through which sex hormones could affect competitiveness: via an impact on risk aversion, via an impact on performance, and via an impact on overconfidence. None of these hold up to the data and we conclude that sex hormones have a more direct impact on competitiveness.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 09-082/3.

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Date of creation: 29 Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:20090082

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Web page: http://www.tinbergen.nl

Related research

Keywords: competitiveness; gender differences; hormones; lab experiment;

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References

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  1. Booth, Alison L. & Nolen, Patrick J., 2009. "Choosing to Compete: How Different Are Girls and Boys?," IZA Discussion Papers 4027, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  3. Yan Chen & Peter Katuscak & Emre Ozdenoren, 2005. "Why Can’t a Woman Bid More Like a Man?," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp275, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  4. Marie-Claire Villeval & Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior - Experimental Evidence," Working Papers, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure 0512, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  5. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," NBER Working Papers 11474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Pearson, Matthew & Schipper, Burkhard C, 2009. "Menstrual cycle and competitive bidding," MPRA Paper 16784, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2002. "Sex Differences and Statistical Stereotyping in Attitudes Toward Financial Risk," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-03, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  8. Arulampalam, Wiji & Booth, Alison L. & Bryan, Mark L., 2004. "Is There a Glass Ceiling over Europe? Exploring the Gender Pay Gap across the Wages Distribution," IZA Discussion Papers 1373, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, 09.
  10. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental," Post-Print halshs-00175039, HAL.
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Blog mentions

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  1. De man die vrouwen begrijpt
    by Eva van den Broek in Science Palooza on 2009-10-25 12:00:00
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Cited by:
  1. Cárdenas, Juan-Camilo & Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Ranehill, Eva, 2010. "Gender Differences in Competitiveness and Risk Taking: Comparing Children in Colombia and Sweden," Research Papers in Economics, Stockholm University, Department of Economics 2010:18, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  2. Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Ranehill, Eva, 2009. "Outrunning the Gender Gap – Boys and Girls Compete Equally," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 709, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 16 Oct 2009.
  3. Loukas Balafoutas & Rudolf Kerschbamer & Matthias Sutter, 2011. "Distributional Preferences and Competitive Behavior," Working Papers 2011-04, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  4. Migheli, Matteo, 2010. "Gender at Work: Productivity and Incentives," AICCON Working Papers, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit 74-2010, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.

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