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Sex, competitiveness, and investment in offspring: On the origin of preferences

  • Jeffery Flory
  • John List
  • Kenneth Leonard
  • Uri Gneezy

Gender differences in competitive behavior have received much attention, demonstrating a systematic gap between males' and females' tendencies to compete. Theories predict a biological factor linked to an evolutionary response to the different paths to reproductive success for men and women. Since strategies for reproductive success change over the female life-cycle, the gender gap is predicted to be largest for young adults but after menopause women should be as competitive as men. Using data drawn from two very different societies, we find strong support for this theoretical prediction: competitiveness in women is tightly linked to their biological roles in childrearing.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Artefactual Field Experiments with number 00072.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00072
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  1. Dekel, E. & Scotchmer, S., 1999. "On the Evolution of Attitudes Towards Risk in Winner-Take-All Games," Papers 4-99, Tel Aviv.
  2. List, John A. & Shogren, Jason F., 1998. "Calibration of the difference between actual and hypothetical valuations in a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 193-205, October.
  3. 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.
  4. repec:feb:artefa:0106 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. John A. List, 2004. "Young, Selfish and Male: Field evidence of social preferences," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(492), pages 121-149, 01.
  6. List John A. & Millimet Daniel L, 2008. "The Market: Catalyst for Rationality and Filter of Irrationality," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-55, November.
  7. John A. List, 2005. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," NBER Working Papers 11616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," NBER Working Papers 11474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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).
  10. repec:feb:artefa:0089 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Charles Mason & John List, 2010. "Are ceos expected utility maximizers?," Artefactual Field Experiments 00090, The Field Experiments Website.
  12. List, John A. & Mason, Charles F., 2001. "Optimal Institutional Arrangements for Transboundary Pollutants in a Second-Best World: Evidence from a Differential Game with Asymmetric Players," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 277-296, November.
  13. List, John A. & Price, Michael K., 2009. "The role of social connections in charitable fundraising: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 160-169, February.
  14. List John A. & Millimet Daniel L & McHone Warren, 2004. "The Unintended Disincentive in the Clean Air Act," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 1-28, February.
  15. David Reiley & John List, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  16. John A. List, 2003. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," NBER Working Papers 9736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. John A. List, 2003. "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 41-71, February.
  18. repec:feb:framed:0081 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. 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.
  20. Alison L. Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2009. "Choosing to Compete: How Different are Girls and Boys?," CEPR Discussion Papers 602, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  21. David Lucking-Reiley & John List, 2002. "The effects of seed money and refunds on charitable giving: Experimental evidence from a university capital campaign," Natural Field Experiments 00301, The Field Experiments Website.
  22. John A. List, 2007. "Field Experiments: A Bridge Between Lab and Naturally-Occurring Data," NBER Working Papers 12992, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. John A. List & Daniel L. Millimet & Per G. Fredriksson & W. Warren McHone, 2003. "Effects of Environmental Regulations on Manufacturing Plant Births: Evidence from a Propensity Score Matching Estimator," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 944-952, November.
  24. John List, 2009. "Social preferences: Some thoughts from the field," Artefactual Field Experiments 00088, The Field Experiments Website.
  25. Gary Charness & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2009. "Cooperation and Competition in Intergenerational Experiments in the Field and the Laboratory," Working Papers 0931, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  26. List, John A. & Rondeau, Daniel, 2003. "The impact of challenge gifts on charitable giving: an experimental investigation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 153-159, May.
  27. John List, 2008. "Informed consent in social science," Artefactual Field Experiments 00086, The Field Experiments Website.
  28. David Lucking-Reiley & John List, 2000. "Demand reduction in a multi-unit auction: Evidence from a sportscard field experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00180, The Field Experiments Website.
  29. John A. List, 2006. "Using Hicksian Surplus Measures to Examine Consistency of Individual Preferences: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(1), pages 115-134, 03.
  30. Robson, Arthur J., 1996. "The Evolution of Attitudes to Risk: Lottery Tickets and Relative Wealth," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 190-207, June.
  31. repec:feb:framed:0070 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. Arthur J. Robson & Larry Samuelson, 2009. "The Evolution of Time Preference with Aggregate Uncertainty," Levine's Working Paper Archive 814577000000000087, David K. Levine.
  33. repec:feb:framed:0052 is not listed on IDEAS
  34. repec:feb:framed:0068 is not listed on IDEAS
  35. repec:feb:natura:0055 is not listed on IDEAS
  36. John A. List, 2004. "Testing Neoclassical Competitive Theory in Multilateral Decentralized Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1131-1156, October.
  37. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  38. Jason Shogren & John List & Michael Margolis, 1998. "Hypothetical-actual bid calibration of a multi-good auction," Framed Field Experiments 00171, The Field Experiments Website.
  39. John A. List, 2004. "The Nature and Extent of Discrimination in the Marketplace: Evidence from the Field," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 49-89, February.
  40. John List & Michael Price, 2005. "Conspiracies and secret price discounts in the marketplace: Evidence from field experiments," Framed Field Experiments 00115, The Field Experiments Website.
  41. George Wu & John List & Uri Gneezy, 2006. "The uncertainty effect: When a risky prospect is valued less than its worst possible outcome," Framed Field Experiments 00152, The Field Experiments Website.
  42. repec:feb:artefa:0102 is not listed on IDEAS
  43. John List, 2005. "Scientific Numerology, Preference Anomalies, and Environmental Policymaking," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(1), pages 35-53, 09.
  44. Jeffrey A. Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & John A. List, 2010. "Do Competitive Work Places Deter Female Workers? A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment on Gender Differences in Job-Entry Decisions," NBER Working Papers 16546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  45. 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.
  46. John List & Todd Cherry, 2000. "Learning to Accept in Ultimatum Games: Evidence from an Experimental Design that Generates Low Offers," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 11-29, June.
  47. John List, 2003. "Using random nth price auctions to value non-market goods and services," Framed Field Experiments 00173, The Field Experiments Website.
  48. Gary Charness & Marie Claire Villeval, 2009. "Cooperation and Competition in Intergenerational Experiments in the Field and in the Laboratory," Post-Print halshs-00371984, HAL.
  49. John List & Craig Gallet, 2001. "What Experimental Protocol Influence Disparities Between Actual and Hypothetical Stated Values?," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 20(3), pages 241-254, November.
  50. John List, 2002. "Testing neoclassical competitive market theory in the field," Artefactual Field Experiments 00082, The Field Experiments Website.
  51. List, John A. & Co, Catherine Y., 2000. "The Effects of Environmental Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-20, July.
  52. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
  53. John A. List, 2002. "Preference Reversals of a Different Kind: The "More Is Less" Phenomenon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1636-1643, December.
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