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Gender and Social Preferences in the US: An Experimental Study

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  • Linda Kamas
  • Anne Preston

Abstract

This contribution provides evidence that social preferences differ by gender among United States college students. Tracking within-person choices over ten dictator exercises in which individuals choose one of three allocations of money between themselves and two other participants, this study precisely maps social preference types and identifies consistency of preferences within groups of roughly two-thirds of participants. Contrary to previous studies that identify a dominant social preference, this study' rigorous identification system reveals that other-regarding individuals are heterogeneous and almost evenly split between inequity aversion and social surplus maximization. But, even among individuals raised in a culture that stresses equal opportunity, there are gender differences. Women are substantially more likely than men to be inequity averters and less likely to be social surplus maximizers. However, a large majority of participants, both men and women, choose allocations consistent with compassion for the least well off.

Suggested Citation

  • Linda Kamas & Anne Preston, 2012. "Gender and Social Preferences in the US: An Experimental Study," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(1), pages 135-160, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:18:y:2012:i:1:p:135-160 DOI: 10.1080/13545701.2012.657662
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dale-Olsen, Harald, 2006. "Wages, fringe benefits and worker turnover," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 87-105, February.
    2. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2004. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects, and Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 1056-1093.
    3. Kenneth R. Troske, 1999. "Evidence On The Employer Size-Wage Premium From Worker-Establishment Matched Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 15-26.
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    5. Jayachandran N. Variyam & David S. Kraybill, 1998. "Fringe Benefits Provision by Rural Small Businesses," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(2), pages 360-368.
    6. Jowett, M. & Contoyannis, P. & Vinh, N. D., 2003. "The impact of public voluntary health insurance on private health expenditures in Vietnam," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 333-342.
    7. Rand, John & Tarp, Finn & Cuong, Tran Tien & Tam, Nguyen Thanh, 2008. "SME Fringe Benefits Provision," MPRA Paper 29469, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 448-474.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kamas, Linda & Preston, Anne, 2015. "Can social preferences explain gender differences in economic behavior?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 525-539.
    2. Kamas, Linda & Preston, Anne, 2016. "Are we underestimating inequality aversion? Comparing recruited and classroom subjects," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 157-159.
    3. Muriel Niederle, 2014. "Gender," NBER Working Papers 20788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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