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Gender Differences in Risk Aversion: Do Single-Sex Environments Affect their Development?

  • Booth, Alison L.

    ()

    (Australian National University)

  • Cardona Sosa, Lina Marcela

    ()

    (Central Bank of Colombia)

  • Nolen, Patrick J.

    ()

    (University of Essex)

Single-sex classes within coeducational environments are likely to modify students' risk-taking attitudes in economically important ways. To test this, we designed a controlled experiment using first year college students who made choices over real-stakes lotteries at two distinct dates. Students were randomly assigned to classes of three types: all female, all male, and coeducational. They were not allowed to change group subsequently. We found that women are less likely to make risky choices than men at both dates. However, after eight weeks in a single-sex environment, women were significantly more likely to choose the lottery than their counterparts in coeducational groups. These results are robust to the inclusion of controls for IQ and for personality type, as well as to a number of sensitivity tests. Our findings suggest that observed gender differences in behaviour under uncertainty found in previous studies might partly reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp6133.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6133.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2014, 99, 126-154
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6133
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  1. Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Poulsen, Anders & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 1833, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  6. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," NBER Working Papers 11474, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter J., 2010. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," IZA Discussion Papers 4941, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. von Gaudecker, Martin & van Soest, Arthur & Wengström, Erik, 2008. "Selection and Mode Effects in Risk Preference Elicitation Experiments," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 08-46, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  9. Wiji Arulampalam & Alison L. Booth & Mark L. Bryan, 2007. "Is There a Glass Ceiling over Europe? Exploring the Gender Pay Gap across the Wage Distribution," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 163-186, January.
  10. Booth, Alison L. & Nolen, Patrick J., 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 4026, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  12. Renate Schubert, 1999. "Financial Decision-Making: Are Women Really More Risk-Averse?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 381-385, May.
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  16. Bertrand, Marianne, 2011. "New Perspectives on Gender," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
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  18. Alison Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2012. "Salience, Risky Choices and Gender," CEPR Discussion Papers 659, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
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  22. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2010. "An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap in Mathematics," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 210-40, April.
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  24. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
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  27. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior: Experimental," Post-Print halshs-00175039, HAL.
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