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Age differences in the reaction to incentives – do older people avoid competition?

  • Sproten, Alec N.
  • Schwieren, Christiane
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    The “aging employee” has recently become a hot topic in many fields of behavioural research. With the aim to determine the effects of different incentive schemes (competition, social or increased monetary incentives) on performance of young and older subjects, we look at behaviour of a group of younger and older adults on a well-established real effort task. We show that older adults differ from younger adults in their performance in all conditions, but not in the improvement between conditions. The age difference in performance is however driven by women. While we replicate the gender difference in competitiveness found in the literature, we do not find a significant age difference in competitiveness. Social incentives have an at least as strong or even stronger effect on performance than increased monetary incentives. This effect is driven by men; women do not show an increase in performance with social incentives.

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    Paper provided by University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0522.

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    Date of creation: 17 Feb 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0522
    Note: This paper is part of http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/volltextserver/view/schriftenreihen/sr-3.html
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    1. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2008. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," NBER Working Papers 13727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Ranehill, Eva, 2009. "Outrunning the Gender Gap – Boys and Girls Compete Equally," SIFR Research Report Series 69, Institute for Financial Research.
    3. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2004. "Gender and Competition at a Young Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 377-381, May.
    4. Müller, Julia & Schwieren, Christiane, 2011. "Can Personality Explain what is Underlying Women's Unwillingness to Compete?," Working Papers 0511, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    5. Kovalchik, Stephanie & Camerer, Colin F. & Grether, David M. & Plott, Charles R. & Allman, John M., 2005. "Aging and decision making: a comparison between neurologically healthy elderly and young individuals," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 79-94, September.
    6. Charness, Gary & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2007. "Cooperation, Competition, and Risk Attitudes: An Intergenerational Field and Laboratory Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2574, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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