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Firms and gender: performance differentials between male and female firms

  • Domenico Depalo


    (Bank of Italy)

  • Francesca Lotti


    (Bank of Italy)

Many empirical analyses find that the performance of firms headed by women (female firms) varies with respect to those headed by men and that the greatest part of this gap is due to observable characteristics (i.e. gender) related to firms� characteristics. In this paper we evaluate whether this finding also holds for Italy in terms of productivity and returns.The classification of firms by gender follows that prescribed in Law 215/92; for the purposes of this paper only partnerships and private and public corporations were considered, the sole legal forms for which balance sheets are available. Whilst male firms operate in almost all sectors, female firms tend to cluster in those areas where interpersonal relations are most important, namely the retail sector, restaurants, hotels etc.. In terms of performance, measured by profitability and productivity (and even when controlling by sector and company size), there do not appear to be any significant differences between male and female enterprises.

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Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) with number 184.

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Date of creation: Jun 2013
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Handle: RePEc:bdi:opques:qef_184_13
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  1. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  2. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
  3. Henrekson, Magnus & Du Rietz, Anita, 1999. "Testing the Female Underperformance Hypothesis," Working Paper Series 521, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  4. Gottschalk, Sandra & Niefert, Michaela, 2011. "Gender differences in business success of German start-up firms," ZEW Discussion Papers 11-019, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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