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Older Sisters and Younger Brothers: The Impact of Siblings on Preference for Competition

Listed author(s):
  • Hiroko Okudaira
  • Yusuke Kinari
  • Noriko Mizutani
  • Fumio Ohtake
  • Akira Kawaguchi

Studies in psychology have long argued the possibility that sibling structure, such as birth order and the gender of siblings, shapes one's feminine and masculine personality traits, such as a preference for competition. In light of recent developments in the economics literature on the gender gap, this implies that familial environment could explain why some women do opt for competition, while the vast majority of women do not and, thus, are underrepresented on the career ladder. By conducting a controlled experiment on Japanese high school students, this study quantifies the impact of sibling structure on one's preference for competition, and examines whether a long-debated sibling hypothesis in psychology is supported from the viewpoint of experimental economics. Consistent with the hypothesis, our results reveal that men with older sisters were significantly less likely to enter a competitive environment compared with only sons. This effect is comparable in size to the effect of being female on the decision to compete. Our study also found moderate evidence that women with younger brothers were more likely to compete than only daughters.

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File URL: http://www.iser.osaka-u.ac.jp/library/dp/2014/DP0896.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University in its series ISER Discussion Paper with number 0896.

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Date of creation: Mar 2014
Handle: RePEc:dpr:wpaper:0896
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  1. Booth, Alison & Cardona-Sosa, Lina & Nolen, Patrick, 2014. "Gender differences in risk aversion: Do single-sex environments affect their development?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 126-154.
  2. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2011. "Gender and Competition," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 601-630, September.
  3. Scott E. Carrell & Marianne E. Page & James E. West, 2010. "Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1101-1144.
  4. 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, September.
  5. Booth, Alison & Nolen, Patrick, 2012. "Choosing to compete: How different are girls and boys?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 542-555.
  6. Muriel Niederle & Carmit Segal & Lise Vesterlund, 2013. "How Costly Is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in Competitiveness," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(1), pages 1-16, May.
  7. repec:esx:essedp:672 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. 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.
  9. David Wozniak & William T. Harbaugh & Ulrich Mayr, 2014. "The Menstrual Cycle and Performance Feedback Alter Gender Differences in Competitive Choices," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 161-198.
  10. repec:dgr:uvatin:20090082 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. repec:pit:wpaper:342 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Buser, Thomas, 2012. "The impact of the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptives on competitiveness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-10.
  13. David Wozniak & William T. Harbaugh & Ulrich Mayr, 2010. "The Menstrual Cycle and Performance Feedback Alter Gender Differences in Competitive Choices," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2010-2, University of Oregon Economics Department.
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