IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Inertia in partnerships: The role of gender


  • Bao, Wei
  • Houser, Daniel
  • Rao, Yulei
  • Xiao, Erte


Using a controlled laboratory experiment, we provide rigorous evidence regarding inertia in partnerships. We find people maintain partnerships even when doing so is costly to themselves and brings neither benefits nor costs to their partners. Moreover, we find this effect to be much more pronounced for males than females, suggesting that males incur greater psychological costs of switching partners than do females.

Suggested Citation

  • Bao, Wei & Houser, Daniel & Rao, Yulei & Xiao, Erte, 2020. "Inertia in partnerships: The role of gender," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 196(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:196:y:2020:i:c:s0165176520303025
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2020.109491

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maria Apostolova-Mihaylova & William Cooper & Gail Hoyt & Emily C. Marshall, 2015. "Heterogeneous gender effects under loss aversion in the economics classroom: A field experiment," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 980-994, April.
    2. Christian Dustmann & Albrecht Glitz & Uta Schönberg & Herbert Brücker, 2016. "Referral-based Job Search Networks," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(2), pages 514-546.
    3. Lori Beaman & Niall Keleher & Jeremy Magruder, 2018. "Do Job Networks Disadvantage Women? Evidence from a Recruitment Experiment in Malawi," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 121-157.
    4. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 164-187, February.
    5. Fiedler, Marina & Haruvy, Ernan & Li, Sherry Xin, 2011. "Social distance in a virtual world experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 400-426, June.
    6. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
    7. Daniel Kahneman & Jack L. Knetsch & Richard H. Thaler, 1991. "Anomalies: The Endowment Effect, Loss Aversion, and Status Quo Bias," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 193-206, Winter.
    8. Uri Gneezy & Alex Imas & Kristóf Madarász, 2014. "Conscience Accounting: Emotion Dynamics and Social Behavior," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(11), pages 2645-2658, November.
    9. Gee, Laura K. & Jones, Jason J. & Fariss, Christopher J. & Burke, Moira & Fowler, James H., 2017. "The paradox of weak ties in 55 countries," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 362-372.
    10. Slonim, Robert & Guillen, Pablo, 2010. "Gender selection discrimination: Evidence from a Trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 385-405, November.
    11. Roy Chen & Yan Chen, 2011. "The Potential of Social Identity for Equilibrium Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2562-2589, October.
    12. Stephen V. Burks & Bo Cowgill & Mitchell Hoffman & Michael Housman, 2015. "The Value of Hiring through Employee Referrals," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 805-839.
    13. Laura K. Gee & Jason Jones & Moira Burke, 2017. "Social Networks and Labor Markets: How Strong Ties Relate to Job Finding on Facebook’s Social Network," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 485-518.
    14. Cettolin, Elena & Riedl, Arno, 2019. "Revealed preferences under uncertainty: Incomplete preferences and preferences for randomization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 181(C), pages 547-585.
    15. Michael Mandler, 2004. "Status quo maintenance reconsidered: changing or incomplete preferences?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(499), pages 518-535, November.
    16. Schmidt, Ulrich & Traub, Stefan, 2002. "An Experimental Test of Loss Aversion," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 233-249, November.
    17. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David & Peterle, Emmanuel, 2018. "Discrimination as favoritism: The private benefits and social costs of in-group favoritism in an experimental labor market," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 220-236.
    2. Beugnot, Julie & Peterlé, Emmanuel, 2020. "Gender bias in job referrals: An experimental test," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    3. A Stefano Caria & Simon Franklin & Marc Witte, 2018. "Searching with friends," CSAE Working Paper Series 2018-14, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    4. Caria, Stefano & Franklin, Simon & Witte, Marc, 2020. "Searching with Friends," IZA Discussion Papers 13857, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Tian, Ye & Chiu, Yi-Chang & Sun, Jian, 2019. "Understanding behavioral effects of tradable mobility credit scheme: An experimental economics approach," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 1-11.
    6. Damgaard, Mette Trier & Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 2018. "Nudging in education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 313-342.
    7. Altmann, Steffen & Falk, Armin & Grunewald, Andreas, 2013. "Incentives and Information as Driving Forces of Default Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 7610, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Dimant, Eugen, 2019. "Contagion of pro- and anti-social behavior among peers and the role of social proximity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 66-88.
    9. Amanda Pallais & Emily Glassberg Sands, 2015. "Why the Referential Treatment: Evidence from Field Experiments on Referrals," NBER Working Papers 21357, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Serhiy Kandul & Oliver Kirchkamp, 2016. "Do I care if others lie? Current and future effects of delegation of lying," Jena Economic Research Papers 2016-011, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    11. Panle Jia Barwick & Yanyan Liu & Eleonora Patacchini & Qi Wu, 2019. "Information, Mobile Communication, and Referral Effects," NBER Working Papers 25873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Rong, Rong & Houser, Daniel & Dai, Anovia Yifan, 2016. "Money or friends: Social identity and deception in networks," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 56-66.
    13. Xu, Xue & Potters, Jan & Suetens, Sigrid, 2020. "Cooperative versus competitive interactions and in-group bias," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 69-79.
    14. Jiang, Jiang & Li, Sherry Xin, 2019. "Group identity and partnership," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 202-213.
    15. Robert Oxoby & William G. Morrison, "undated". "Asset Integration, Risk Taking and Loss Aversion in the Laboratory," Working Papers 2019-04, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 30 Jan 2019.
    16. Eliason, Marcus & Hensvik, Lena & Kramarz, Francis & Nordstrom Skans, Oskar, 2017. "The Causal Impact of Social Connections on Firms' Outcomes," CEPR Discussion Papers 12135, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Maoliang Ye & Jie Zheng & Plamen Nikolov & Sam Asher, 2020. "One Step at a Time: Does Gradualism Build Coordination?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(1), pages 113-129, January.
    18. Kandul, Serhiy & Kirchkamp, Oliver, 2018. "Do I care if others lie? Current and future effects when lies can be delegated," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 70-78.
    19. Eliason, Marcus & Hensvik, Lena & Kramarz, Francis & Nordstrom Skans, Oskar, 2019. "Social Connections and the Sorting of Workers to Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 13672, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Friebel, Guido & Lalanne, Marie & Richter, Bernard & Schwardmann, Peter & Seabright, Paul, 2017. "Women form social networks more selectively and less opportunistically than men," SAFE Working Paper Series 168, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.

    More about this item


    Inertia; Gender difference; Partner choice; Experimental design;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:196:y:2020:i:c:s0165176520303025. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Nithya Sathishkumar). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.