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Gender Differences in Risk Aversion: Do Single-Sex Environments Affect their Development?

  • Alison L. Booth

    ()

  • Lina Cardona-Sosa

    ()

  • Patrick Nolen

    ()

Single-sex classes within coeducational environments are likely to modify students' risk-taking attitudes in economically important ways. To test this, we designed a controlled experiment using first year college students who made choices over real-stakes lotteries at two distinct dates. Students were randomly assigned to weekly classes of three types: all female, all male, and coeducational. They were not allowed to change group subsequently. We found that women are less likely to make risky choices than men at both dates. However, after eight weeks in a single-sex class environment, women were significantly more likely to choose the lottery than their counterparts in coeducational groups. These results are robust to the inclusion of controls for IQ and for personality type, as well as to a number of sensitivity tests. Our findings suggest that observed gender differences in behavior under uncertainty found in previous studies might partly reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits.

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Paper provided by Banco de la Republica de Colombia in its series Borradores de Economia with number 786.

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Length: 83
Date of creation: Oct 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bdr:borrec:786
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  1. Booth, Alison L & Nolen, Patrick, 2012. "Salience, Risky Choices and Gender," CEPR Discussion Papers 8868, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, 09.
  3. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  4. Hans-Martin Gaudecker & Arthur Soest & Erik Wengström, 2012. "Experts in experiments," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 45(2), pages 159-190, October.
  5. Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von & Soest, Arthur van & Wengström, Erik, 2008. "Selection and mode effects in risk preference elicitation experiments," Papers 08-46, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
  6. 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.
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  8. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2010. "Are risk aversion and impatience related to cognitive ability?," Munich Reprints in Economics 20063, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete too Much?," Discussion Papers 04-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  10. Steffen Andersen & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau & E. Rutström, 2006. "Elicitation using multiple price list formats," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 383-405, December.
  11. Arulampalam, Wiji & Booth, Alison L. & Bryan, Mark L., 2004. "Is There a Glass Ceiling over Europe? Exploring the Gender Pay Gap across the Wages Distribution," IZA Discussion Papers 1373, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Roland G. Fryer, Jr & Steven D. Levitt, 2009. "An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap in Mathematics," NBER Working Papers 15430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Muriel Niederle & Alexandra H. Yestrumskas, 2008. "Gender Differences in Seeking Challenges: The Role of Institutions," NBER Working Papers 13922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Kate Krause & Lise Vesterlund & William Harbaugh, 2002. "Risk attitudes of children and adults: Choices over small and large probability gains and losses," Artefactual Field Experiments 00055, The Field Experiments Website.
  15. Booth, Alison L & Nolen, Patrick J, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?," Economics Discussion Papers 2915, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  16. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  17. Marie-Claire Villeval & Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior - Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 0512, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  18. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter J., 2010. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," IZA Discussion Papers 4941, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. John List & Uri Gneezy, 2006. "Putting behavioral economics to work: Testing for gift exchange in labor markets using field experiments," Natural Field Experiments 00259, The Field Experiments Website.
  20. Bertrand, Marianne, 2011. "New Perspectives on Gender," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  21. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2004. "The US Gender Pay Gap in the 1990s: Slowing Convergence," NBER Working Papers 10853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  23. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin F. Hallock, 2001. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(1), pages 3-21, October.
  24. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2007. "Estimating Risk Attitudes in Denmark: A Field Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(2), pages 341-368, 06.
  25. Renate Schubert, 1999. "Financial Decision-Making: Are Women Really More Risk-Averse?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 381-385, May.
  26. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  27. repec:pri:indrel:dsp01gb19f581g is not listed on IDEAS
  28. 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.
  29. Maier, Johannes & Rüger, Maximilian, 2010. "Measuring Risk Aversion Model-Independently," Discussion Papers in Economics 11873, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  30. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental," Post-Print halshs-00175039, HAL.
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