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Can Gender Differences in Distributional Preferences Explain Gender Gaps in Competition?

Listed author(s):
  • Mani, Subha

    ()

    (Fordham University)

  • Dasgupta, Utteeyo

    ()

    (Fordham University)

  • Sharma, Smriti

    ()

    (UNU-WIDER)

  • Singhal, Saurabh

    ()

    (UNU-WIDER)

We design an experiment to examine whether egalitarian preferences, and in particular, behindness aversion as well as preference for favorable inequality affect competitive choices differently among males and females. We find that selection into competitive environments is: (a) negatively related to egalitarian preferences, with smaller negative impacts of being egalitarian on females' choice of the tournament wage scheme, and (b) negatively associated with behindness aversion and positively related to preference for favorable inequality, with significant gender differences in the impact of these distributional preferences. Once we allow for the impact of distributional preferences, behavioral, personality, and socioeconomic characteristics to vary by gender, the pure gender effect is explained away. We find that gender gaps in distributional preferences along with selected personality traits are the most relevant explanations for gender differences in willingness to compete. This is an important result as these characteristics are per se malleable and amenable to policy interventions.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10627.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2017
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10627
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