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Gender Differences in Willingness to Compete: The Role of Culture and Institutions

Author

Listed:
  • Booth, Alison L.

    (Australian National University)

  • Fan, Elliott

    (National Taiwan University)

  • Meng, Xin

    (Australian National University)

  • Zhang, Dandan

    (Peking University)

Abstract

In the laboratory experiment reported in this paper we explore how evolving institutions and social norms, which we label 'culture', change individuals' preferences and behaviour in mainland China. From 1949 China experienced dramatic changes in its socio-economic institutions. These began with communist central planning and the establishment of new social norms, including the promotion of gender equality in place of the Confucian view of female 'inferiority'. Market-oriented reforms, begun in 1978, helped China achieve unprecedented economic growth and at the same time Marxist ideology was gradually replaced by the acceptance of individualistic free-market ideology. During this period, many old traditions crept back and as a consequence social norms gradually changed again. In our experiment we investigate gender differences in competitive choices across different birth cohorts of individuals who, during their crucial developmental-age, were exposed to one of the two regimes outlined above. In particular we investigate gender differences in competitive choices for different birth cohorts in Beijing using their counterparts in Taipei (subject to the same original Confucian traditions) to control for the general time trend. Our findings confirm: (i) that females in Beijing are significantly more likely to compete than females from Taipei; (ii) that Beijing females from the 1958 birth cohort are more competitive than their male counterparts as well as more competitive than later Beijing birth cohorts; and (iii) that for Taipei there are no statistically significant differences across cohort or gender in willingness to compete. In summary, our findings confirm that exposure to different institutions and social norms during the crucial developmental age changes individuals' behaviour. Our findings also provide further evidence that gender differences in economic preferences are not innately determined.

Suggested Citation

  • Booth, Alison L. & Fan, Elliott & Meng, Xin & Zhang, Dandan, 2016. "Gender Differences in Willingness to Compete: The Role of Culture and Institutions," IZA Discussion Papers 10364, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10364
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Yao, Yang & You, Wuyue, 2018. "Women’s political participation and gender gaps of education in China: 1950–1990," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 220-237.
    2. Booth, Alison & Lee, Jungmin, 2021. "Girls’ and boys’ performance in competitions: What we can learn from a Korean quiz show," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 431-447.
    3. Hoyer, Britta & van Huizen, Thomas & Keijzer, Linda & Rezaei, Sarah & Rosenkranz, Stephanie & Westbrock, Bastian, 2020. "Gender, competitiveness, and task difficulty: Evidence from the field," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    4. Lau Lilleholt, 2019. "Cognitive ability and risk aversion: A systematic review and meta analysis," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 14(3), pages 234-279, May.
    5. Dennie van Dolder & Martijn van Assem & Thomas Buser, 2020. "Gender and Willingness to Compete for High Stakes," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 20-011/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. Abu Siddique & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2020. "Competitive Preferences and Ethnicity: Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 130(627), pages 793-821.
    7. Fang, Chao & Zhang, Ernest & Zhang, Junfu, 2021. "Do women give up competing more easily? Evidence from speedcubers," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 205(C).
    8. Cheng, Nora & Fan, Elliott & Wu, Tsong-Min, 2021. "Sweet Unbinding: Sugarcane Cultivation and the Demise of Foot-Binding," IZA Discussion Papers 14076, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Kevin Boudreau & Nilam Kaushik, 2020. "The Gender Gap in Tech & Competitive Work Environments? Field Experimental Evidence from an Internet-of-Things Product Development Platform," NBER Working Papers 27154, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Carlsson, Fredrik & Lampi, Elina & Martinsson, Peter & Yang, Xiaojun, 2020. "Replication: Do women shy away from competition? Experimental evidence from China," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).
    11. Jianxin Wang & Daniel Houser & Hui Xu, 2017. "Do Females Always Generate Small Bubbles? Experimental Evidence from U.S. and China," Working Papers 1063, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Sep 2017.
    12. Nicolas EBER & Abel FRANCOIS & Laurent WEILL, 2020. "Gender, Age, and Attitude toward Competition," Working Papers of LaRGE Research Center 2020-07, Laboratoire de Recherche en Gestion et Economie (LaRGE), Université de Strasbourg.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender; competitive choices; culture; behavioural economics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions
    • P5 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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