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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. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  2. John List & Kenneth Leonard & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender differences in competition: Evidence from a matrilineal and a patriarchal society," Artefactual Field Experiments 00049, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Alison L. Booth & Patrick Nolen, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Behaviour: Does Nurture Matter?," Economics Discussion Papers 672, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  4. 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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  6. Muriel Niederle & Alexandra H. Yestrumskas, 2008. "Gender Differences in Seeking Challenges: The Role of Institutions," NBER Working Papers 13922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2007. "Estimating Risk Attitudes in Denmark: A Field Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(2), pages 341-368, 06.
  9. Uri Gneezy & John A List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1365-1384, 09.
  10. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2004. "Gender and Competition at a Young Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 377-381, May.
  11. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2009. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2620, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  13. Steffen Andersen & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau & E. Rutström, 2006. "Elicitation using multiple price list formats," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 383-405, December.
  14. 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.
  15. Gary Charness & Peter J. Kuhn, 2010. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," NBER Working Papers 15913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2006. "The U.S. gender pay gap in the 1990s: slowing convergence," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 45-66, October.
  17. Bertrand, Marianne, 2011. "New Perspectives on Gender," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  18. Kate Krause & Lise Vesterlund & William Harbaugh, 2002. "Risk attitudes of children and adults: Choices over small and large probability gains and losses," Artefactual Field Experiments 00055, The Field Experiments Website.
  19. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior - Experimental Evidence," Post-Print halshs-00180022, HAL.
  20. Booth, Alison L. & Nolen, Patrick J., 2012. "Salience, Risky Choices and Gender," IZA Discussion Papers 6400, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. von Gaudecker, H.M. & van Soest, A.H.O. & Wengstrom, E., 2008. "Selection and Mode Effects in Risk Preference Elicitation Experiments," Discussion Paper 2008-11, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  22. 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.
  23. Maier, Johannes & Rüger, Maximilian, 2010. "Measuring Risk Aversion Model-Independently," Discussion Papers in Economics 11873, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  24. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  25. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  26. 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.
  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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