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Is there a gender gap in preschoolers’ competitiveness? An experiment in the U.S

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  • Samak, Anya C.

Abstract

We experimentally investigate the difference in competitiveness of 3–5 year-old boys and girls in the U.S. 123 children from a preschool are randomly matched into girl–girl, boy–boy, and boy–girl pairs of similar age and participate in a gender-neutral, competitive classroom activity using candy as an incentive. Children participate in a piece rate incentive scheme and a tournament incentive scheme in rounds 1 and 2, and select their preferred incentive scheme for round 3. We find that girls and boys choose to compete at equal rates – with 80% of children choosing to compete overall. We also find that girls’ output in the task is significantly lower than that of boys under the tournament scheme, but not different in round 3 for the girls and boys who self-select into the tournament. All children display a remarkable rate of confidence – 84% of children believe they won under the tournament scheme. The gender of the match does not play a significant role.

Suggested Citation

  • Samak, Anya C., 2013. "Is there a gender gap in preschoolers’ competitiveness? An experiment in the U.S," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 22-31.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:92:y:2013:i:c:p:22-31
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2013.04.014
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gender; Competition; Child preferences; Field experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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