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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. 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.
  2. Marie-Claire Villeval & Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior - Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 0512, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  3. 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).
  4. Matthew Pearson & Burkhard Schipper, 2012. "Menstrual Cycle and Competitive Bidding," Working Papers 1110, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. Booth, Alison & Nolen, Patrick, 2012. "Choosing to compete: How different are girls and boys?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 542-555.
  7. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101, 08.
  8. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  9. Chen, Yan & Katuščák, Peter & Ozdenoren, Emre, 2013. "Why canʼt a woman bid more like a man?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 181-213.
  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

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  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. 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.
  2. Cárdenas, Juan-Camilo & Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Ranehill, Eva, 2010. "Gender differences in competitiveness and risk taking: comparing children in Colombia and Sweden," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 730, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 03 Jun 2011.
  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," POLIS Working Papers 142, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.

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