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Hormonal Contraceptives Do Not Impact Economic Preferences: Evidence from a Randomized Trial

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  • Eva Ranehill

    (Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden; Center for Economic Research, ETH Zürich, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland)

  • Niklas Zethraeus

    (Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden)

  • Liselott Blomberg

    (Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska University Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden)

  • Bo von Schoultz

    (Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska University Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden)

  • Angelica Lindén Hirschberg

    (Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Karolinska University Hospital, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden)

  • Magnus Johannesson

    (Department of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden)

  • Anna Dreber

    (Department of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden)

Abstract

A growing body of correlational studies suggests that sex hormones such as those contained in, or affected by, oral contraceptives (OCs) may impact economic behavior. However, despite widespread use of OCs among women in Western countries, little is known about their potential behavioral effects. The present study investigates whether OCs causally influence economic preferences. We randomly allocate 340 women aged 18–35 to three months of a widely used OC or placebo treatment. At the end of treatment, we conduct an economic experiment measuring altruism, financial risk taking, and willingness to compete. The statistical power is 80% to detect an effect size equal to a Cohen’s d of 0.30 at the 5% level. We find no significant effects of OCs on any of the measured preferences, indicating that this widely used OC treatment, commonly used throughout the world, does not significantly affect the measured economic preferences. Further, we find no relation between menstrual cycle phase and economic preferences in the placebo group.

Suggested Citation

  • Eva Ranehill & Niklas Zethraeus & Liselott Blomberg & Bo von Schoultz & Angelica Lindén Hirschberg & Magnus Johannesson & Anna Dreber, 2018. "Hormonal Contraceptives Do Not Impact Economic Preferences: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(10), pages 4515-4532, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:64:y:2018:i:10:p:4515-4532
    DOI: 10.287/mnsc.2017.2844
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    2. Boneva, Teodora & Buser, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Kosse, Fabian, 2021. "The Origins of Gender Differences in Competitiveness and Earnings Expectations: Causal Evidence from a Mentoring Intervention," IZA Discussion Papers 14800, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Amanda Goodall & Margit Osterloh & Mandy Fong, 2020. "Women Shy Away From Competition – How To Overcome It," CREMA Working Paper Series 2020-21, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    4. Fišar, Miloš & Cingl, Lubomír & Reggiani, Tommaso & Kundtová Klocová, Eva & Kundt, Radek & Krátký, Jan & Kostolanská, Katarína & Bencúrová, Petra & Pešková, Marie Kudličková & Marečková, Klára, 2023. "Ovulatory shift, hormonal changes, and no effects on incentivized decision-making," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 98(C).
    5. Schipper, Burkhard C., 2023. "Sex hormones and choice under risk," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 96(C).
    6. Krenz, Astrid & Strulik, Holger, 2021. "The impact of menstruation hygiene management on work absenteeism of women in Burkina Faso," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 43(C).

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