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Which is the Fair Sex? Gender Differences in Altruism

  • Andreoni, James
  • Vesterlund, Lise

We study gender differences in altruism by examining a modified dictator game with varying incomes and prices. Our results indicate that the question "which is the fair sex?" has a complicated answer--when altruism is expensive, women are kinder, but when it is cheap, men are more altruistic. That is, we find that the male and female "demand curves for altruism" cross, and that men are more responsive to price changes. Furthermore, men are more likely to be either perfectly selfish or perfectly selfless, whereas women tend to be "equalitarians" who prefer to share evenly.

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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 1951.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 2001,, pp. 293-312
Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:1951
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.eduEmail:


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  1. James Andreoni & Eleanor Brown & Isaac C. Rischall, . "Charitable Giving by Married Couples: Who Decides and Why Does it Matter?," Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers 32, McMaster University.
  2. repec:att:wimass:9006 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. 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.
  4. Isaac, R. Mark & Walker, James M. & Williams, Arlington W., 1994. "Group size and the voluntary provision of public goods : Experimental evidence utilizing large groups," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-36, May.
  5. Gary E. Bolton & Rami Zwick & Elena Katok, 1998. "Dictator game giving: Rules of fairness versus acts of kindness," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 269-299.
  6. Andreoni, James, 1993. "An Experimental Test of the Public-Goods Crowding-Out Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1317-27, December.
  7. Bolton, Gary E. & Katok, Elena, 1995. "An experimental test for gender differences in beneficent behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 287-292, June.
  8. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  9. Nowell, Clifford & Tinkler, Sarah, 1994. "The influence of gender on the provision of a public good," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 25-36, September.
  10. Bohnet, Iris & Frey, Bruno S., 1999. "The sound of silence in prisoner's dilemma and dictator games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 43-57, January.
  11. Eckel, Catherine C & Grossman, Philip J, 2001. "Chivalry and Solidarity in Ultimatum Games," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 171-88, April.
  12. Nancy Buchan & Rachel Croson, 1999. "Gender and Culture: International Experimental Evidence from Trust Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 386-391, May.
  13. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & Nancy Lutz & V. Padmanbhan, 1997. "Playing it Safe: Men, Women, and Risk Aversion," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-42, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  14. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
  15. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-30, October.
  16. Cason, Timothy N & Mui, Vai-Lam, 1997. "A Laboratory Study of Group Polarisation in the Team Dictator Game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(444), pages 1465-83, September.
  17. James Andreoni, 2001. "Giving According to GARP," Theory workshop papers 339, UCLA Department of Economics.
  18. 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.
  19. Bruno S. Frey & Iris Bohnet, 1999. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 335-339, March.
  20. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "The relative price of fairness: gender differences in a punishment game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 143-158, August.
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