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The dark side of competition: Gender differences


  • Chang, Simone
  • Kan, Kamhon
  • Zhang, Xiaobo


The literature has placed great emphasis on the advantages of competition on market efficiency while ignoring the downside of competition on health. Using a natural experiment in Taiwan, we show that excessive competition comes at a health cost. In the late 1940s, half a million soldiers retreated to Taiwan from Mainland China after a civil war. They were initially not allowed to get married until the marriage ban was essentially lifted in 1959. As a large number of soldiers flooded the marriage market, men faced much stronger mating competition than before, which in turn increased the likelihood of male depression and mortality.

Suggested Citation

  • Chang, Simone & Kan, Kamhon & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2016. "The dark side of competition: Gender differences," IFPRI discussion papers 1585, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:1585

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2005. "Sex differences in morbidity and mortality," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 42(2), pages 189-214, May.
    3. Pierre-André Chiappori & Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2012. "Fatter Attraction: Anthropometric and Socioeconomic Matching on the Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(4), pages 659-695.
    4. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2011. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 511-564.
    5. Andrew Francis, 2011. "Sex ratios and the red dragon: using the Chinese Communist Revolution to explore the effect of the sex ratio on women and children in Taiwan," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(3), pages 813-837, July.
    6. 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.
    7. Hongbin Li & Junjian Yi & Junsen Zhang, 2011. "Estimating the Effect of the One-Child Policy on the Sex Ratio Imbalance in China: Identification Based on the Difference-in-Differences," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(4), pages 1535-1557, November.
    8. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang & Yin Liu, 2012. "Status Competition and Housing Prices," NBER Working Papers 18000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Lena Edlund & Hongbin Li & Junjian Yi & Junsen Zhang, 2013. "Sex Ratios and Crime: Evidence from China," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1520-1534, December.
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    gender; markets; health; men; marriage; sex ratio; mortality; governance;

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