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Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?

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  • Booth, Alison L.

    ()
    (Australian National University)

  • Nolen, Patrick J.

    ()
    (University of Essex)

Abstract

Women and men may differ in their propensity to choose a risky outcome because of innate preferences or because their innate preferences are modified by pressure to conform to gender-stereotypes. Single-sex environments are likely to modify students’ risk-taking preferences in economically important ways. To test this, our controlled experiment gave subjects an opportunity to choose a risky outcome − a real-stakes gamble with a higher expected monetary value than the alternative outcome with a certain payoff − and in which the sensitivity of observed risk choices to environmental factors could be explored. The results show that girls from single-sex schools are as likely to choose the real-stakes gamble as much as boys from either coed or single sex schools, and more likely than coed girls. Moreover, gender differences in preferences for risk-taking are sensitive to the gender mix of the experimental group, with girls being more likely to choose risky outcomes when assigned to all-girl groups. This suggests that observed gender differences in behaviour under uncertainty found in previous studies might reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4026.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Journal, 2012, 122 (558), F56 - F78
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4026

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Keywords: gender identity; controlled experiment; risk aversion; risk attitudes;

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  1. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
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  6. Muriel Niederle & Alexandra H. Yestrumskas, 2008. "Gender Differences in Seeking Challenges: The Role of Institutions," NBER Working Papers 13922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. 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.
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  15. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier, Elsevier.
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  1. Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?
    by Kevin Denny in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-07-29 15:00:00
  2. Gender & decision-making
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-08-03 13:53:53
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