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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 Archive 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.edu
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. James Andreoni, 2001. "Giving According to GARP," Theory workshop papers 339, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. James Andreoni & Eleanor Brown & Isaac Rischall, 2000. "Charitable Giving by Married Couples: Who Decides and Why Does it Matter?," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2000-44, Claremont Colleges.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-30, October.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Gary E. Bolton & Rami Zwick & Elena Katok, 1998. "Dictator game giving: Rules of fairness versus acts of kindness," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 27(2), pages 269-299.
  19. 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.
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