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Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society

  • Uri Gneezy
  • Kenneth L. Leonard
  • John A. List

This study uses a controlled experiment to explore whether there are gender differences in selecting into competitive environments across two distinct societies: the Maasai in Tanzania and the Khasi in India. One unique aspect of these societies is that the Maasai represent a textbook example of a patriarchal society whereas the Khasi are matrilineal. Similar to the extant evidence drawn from experiments executed in Western cultures, Maasai men opt to compete at roughly twice the rate as Maasai women. Interestingly, this result is reversed amongst the Khasi, where women choose the competitive environment more often than Khasi men, and even choose to compete weakly more often than Maasai men. We view these results as potentially providing insights into the underpinnings of the factors hypothesized to be determinants of the observed gender differences in selecting into competitive environments.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13727.

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Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, 09.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13727
Note: LE LS PE
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  1. 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.
  2. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior - Experimental Evidence," Post-Print halshs-00180022, HAL.
  3. Gneezy, U. & Potters, J.J.M., 1996. "An experiment on risk taking and evaluation periods," Discussion Paper 1996-61, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. Haigh, Michael S. & List, John A., 2002. "Do Professional Traders Exhibit Myopic Loss Aversion? An Experimental Analysis," Working Papers 28554, University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  5. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2008. "Learning from the Past," NBER Chapters, in: Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1992. "The Gender Earnings Gap: Learning from International Comparisons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 533-38, May.
  7. Aldo Rustichini & Uri Gneezy, 2004. "Gender and competition at a young age," Framed Field Experiments 00151, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Joseph Henrich & Richard McElreath, 2002. "Are peasants risk-averse decision makers?," Artefactual Field Experiments 00066, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. David Reiley & John List, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "Gender Differences in Pay," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 75-99, Fall.
  11. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259 Elsevier.
  12. Vandegrift, Donald & Yavas, Abdullah, 2009. "Men, women, and competition: An experimental test of behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 554-570, October.
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