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Do men really have no shame?

  • Abigail Barr
  • Bill Kinsey

Microfinance is one of the most commonly applied development interventions of our time. It is also one of the most gender-biased. In part, this is due to targeting. However, it might also relate to the emphasis placed by microfinance providers on group-loans. If women have a comparative advantage when it comes to functioning in groups, they might self-select into microfinance provided as group loans, while men seek alternative sources of credit. This paper explores the possibility that such a comparative advantage exists and that it relates to women’s greater propensity to feel shame and/or induce feelings of shame in others. It uses data derived from an economic experiment conducted in 12 Zimbabwean villages to test a series of hypotheses. The findings suggest that men regard others less than women when deciding how to behave; that, even after controlling for this, they are more likely to attract criticism; and that they are no less responsive than women to such shame-inducing, social sanctioning. Finally, while men are no more inclined to sanction others they are less effective than women at effecting a resultant improvement in behaviour.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2002-05.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2002-05
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  1. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  2. Mason, Charles F. & Phillips, Owen R. & Redington, Douglas B., 1991. "The role of gender in a non-cooperative game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 215-235, March.
  3. Besley, T. & Coate, S., 1991. "Group Lending, Repayment Incentives And Social Collateral," Papers 152, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  4. Besley, T. & Coate, S. & Loury, G., 1992. "The economics of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations," Papers 157, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  5. Brown-Kruse, Jamie & Hummels, David, 1993. "Gender effects in laboratory public goods contribution : Do individuals put their money where their mouth is?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 255-267, December.
  6. Eckel, Catherine C & Grossman, Philip J, 1998. "Are Women Less Selfish Than Men? Evidence from Dictator Experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 726-35, May.
  7. Dekker, Marleen, 2004. "Sustainability and Resourcefulness: Support Networks During Periods of Stress," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1735-1751, October.
  8. Jonathan Morduch, 1999. "The Microfinance Promise," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1569-1614, December.
  9. Goetz, Anne Marie & Gupta, Rina Sen, 1996. "Who takes the credit? Gender, power, and control over loan use in rural credit programs in Bangladesh," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 45-63, January.
  10. Wydick, Bruce, 1999. "Can Social Cohesion Be Harnessed to Repair Market Failures? Evidence from Group Lending in Guatemala," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(457), pages 463-75, July.
  11. Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 1999. "Collective action as a social exchange," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 341-369, July.
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