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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 & Nolen, Patrick, 2012. "Salience, risky choices and gender," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(2), pages 517-520.
  2. David Reiley & John List, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Gaudecker, Hans-Martin von & van Soest, Arthur & Wengström, Erik, 2008. "Selection and Mode Effects in Risk Preference Elicitation Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 3321, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental," Post-Print halshs-00175039, HAL.
  5. 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.
  6. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  7. Elisabet Rutstrom & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau, 2004. "Estimating risk attitudes in denmark: A field experiment," Artefactual Field Experiments 00059, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Maier, Johannes & Rüger, Maximilian, 2010. "Measuring Risk Aversion Model-Independently," Discussion Papers in Economics 11873, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2009. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2620, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Poulsen, Anders & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 1833, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Arulampalam, Wiji & Booth, Alison L. & Bryan, Mark L., 2005. "Is there a glass ceiling over Europe? Exploring the gender pay gap across the wages distribution," ISER Working Paper Series 2005-25, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  12. Aldo Rustichini & Uri Gneezy, 2004. "Gender and competition at a young age," Framed Field Experiments 00151, The Field Experiments Website.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. John List & Kenneth Leonard & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender differences in competition: Evidence from a matrilineal and a patriarchal society," Artefactual Field Experiments 00049, The Field Experiments Website.
  16. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101.
  17. William Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Lise Vesterlund, 2002. "Risk Attitudes of Children and Adults: Choices Over Small and Large Probability Gains and Losses," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 53-84, June.
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  19. 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.
  20. Alison L. Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2012. "Gender differences in risk behaviour: does nurture matter?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(558), pages F56-F78, 02.
  21. Francine Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2006. "The US Gender Pay Gap in the 1990s: Slowing Convergence," Working Papers 887, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  22. Gary Charness & Peter J. Kuhn, 2010. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," NBER Working Papers 15913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Uri Gneezy & John A. List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," NBER Working Papers 12063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Bertrand, Marianne, 2011. "New Perspectives on Gender," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
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  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
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