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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
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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. 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.
  2. Uri Gneezy & Jan Potters, 1997. "An Experiment on Risk Taking and Evaluation Periods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 631-645.
  3. Aldo Rustichini & Uri Gneezy, 2004. "Gender and competition at a young age," Framed Field Experiments 00151, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. 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.
  5. Marie-Claire Villeval & Nabanita Datta Gupta & Anders Poulsen, 2005. "Male and Female Competitive Behavior - Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 0512, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  6. Michael S. Haigh & John A. List, 2005. "Do Professional Traders Exhibit Myopic Loss Aversion? An Experimental Analysis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(1), pages 523-534, 02.
  7. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "Gender Differences in Pay," NBER Working Papers 7732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Joseph G. Altonji & Rebecca M. Blank, . "Race and Gender in the Labor Market," IPR working papers 98-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  9. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
  10. David Reiley & John List, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. 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.
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