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Gender Differences in Response to Big Stakes


  • Ghazala Azmat
  • Caterina Calsamiglia
  • Nagore Iriberri


It is commonly perceived that increasing incentives improves performance. However, the reaction to increased incentives might differ between men and women, leading to gender differences in performance. In a natural experiment, we study the gender difference in performance resulting from changes in stakes. We use detailed information on the performance of high-school students and exploit the variation in the stakes of tests, which range from 5% to 27% of the final grade. We find that female students outperform male students in all tests—but to a relatively larger degree when the stakes are low. The gender gap disappears in tests taken at the end of high school, which count for 50% of the university entry grade.

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  • Ghazala Azmat & Caterina Calsamiglia & Nagore Iriberri, 2014. "Gender Differences in Response to Big Stakes," CEP Discussion Papers dp1314, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1314

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Terrier, Camille, 2016. "Boys Lag Behind: How Teachers' Gender Biases Affect Student Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 10343, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Matthias Collischon, 2019. "Relative Pay, Rank and Happiness: A Comparison Between Genders and Part- and Full-Time Employees," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 67-80, January.
    3. Jana Cahlíková & Lubomír Cingl & Ian Levely, 2020. "How Stress Affects Performance and Competitiveness Across Gender," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(8), pages 3295-3310, August.
    4. Uri Gneezy & John A. List & Jeffrey A. Livingston & Xiangdong Qin & Sally Sadoff & Yang Xu, 2019. "Measuring Success in Education: The Role of Effort on the Test Itself," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 291-308, December.
    5. Alós-Ferrer, Carlos & García-Segarra, Jaume & Ritschel, Alexander, 2018. "Performance curiosity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 1-17.
    6. Jetter, Michael & Walker, Jay K., 2018. "The gender of opponents: Explaining gender differences in performance and risk-taking?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 238-256.
    7. Calsamiglia, Caterina & Loviglio, Annalisa, 2019. "Grading on a curve: When having good peers is not good," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).
    8. Sonnabend, Hendrik & Lackner, Mario, 2020. "Gender differences in overconfidence and decision making in high-stakes competitions: evidence from freediving contests," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224595, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Hanna M. Sittenthaler & Alwine Mohnen, 2020. "Cash, non-cash, or mix? Gender matters! The impact of monetary, non-monetary, and mixed incentives on performance," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 90(8), pages 1253-1284, September.
    10. Maggian, Valeria & Montinari, Natalia & Nicolò, Antonio, 2020. "Do quotas help women to climb the career ladder? A laboratory experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 123(C).
    11. Maria Cubel & Santiago Sanchez-Pages, 2016. "Gender differences and stereotypes in strategic thinking," UB Economics Working Papers 2016/338, Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat d'Economia i Empresa, UB School of Economics.
    12. Judith M. Delaney & Paul J. Devereux, 2021. "Gender and Educational Achievement: Stylized Facts and Causal Evidence," Working Papers 202103, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    13. Philip J. Grossman & Youngseok Park & Jean Paul Rabanal & Olga A. Rud, 2019. "Gender differences in an endogenous timing conflict game," Working Papers 141, Peruvian Economic Association.
    14. Xiqian Cai & Yi Lu & Jessica Pan & Songfa Zhong, 2019. "Gender Gap under Pressure: Evidence from China's National College Entrance Examination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 249-263, May.
    15. Maria De Paola & Rosetta Lombarso & Valeria Pupo & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2020. "Do Women Shy Away From Public Speaking? A Field Experiment," Working Papers 202001 Classification-JEL, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.
    16. Lu, Yi & Shi, Xinzheng & Zhong, Songfa, 2018. "Competitive experience and gender difference in risk preference, trust preference and academic performance: Evidence from Gaokao in China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 1388-1410.
    17. Hanna M. Sittenthaler & Alwine Mohnen, 0. "Cash, non-cash, or mix? Gender matters! The impact of monetary, non-monetary, and mixed incentives on performance," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-32.
    18. Daniel Montolio & Pere A. Taberner, 2018. "Gender differences under test pressure and their impact on academic performance: a quasi-experimental design," Working Papers 2018/21, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    19. Carlos Alós-Ferrer & Jaume García-Segarra & Alexander Ritschel, 2018. "The Big Robber Game," ECON - Working Papers 291, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    20. Silvia Griselda, 2020. "Different Questions, Different Gender Gap: Can the Format of Questions Explain the Gender Gap in Mathematics?," 2020 Papers pgr710, Job Market Papers.
    21. Eunsik Chang & María Padilla-Romo, 2019. "The Effects of Local Violent Crime on High-Stakes Tests," Working Papers 2019-03, University of Tennessee, Department of Economics.
    22. Terrier, Camille, 2020. "Boys lag behind: How teachers’ gender biases affect student achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    23. Farré, Lídia & Ortega, Francesc, 2019. "Selecting Talent: Gender Differences in Participation and Success in Competitive Selection Processes," IZA Discussion Papers 12530, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item


    Stakes; gender gaps; performance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • C30 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - General

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