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Risk Taking and Gender in Hierarchies

  • Suzanne Scotchmer

In a labor market hierarchy, promotions are affected by the noisiness of information about the candidates. I study the hypothesis that males are more risk taking than females, and its implications for rates of promotion and abilities of survivors. I define promotion hierarchies with and without memory, where memory means that promotion depends on the entire history of success. In both types of hierarchies, the surviving risk takers will have lower average ability whenever they have a higher survival rate. Further, even if more risk takers than non risk takers are promoted in the beginning of the hierarchy, that will be reversed over time. The risk takers will eventually have a lower survival rate, but higher ability. As a consequence of these differences, the various requirements of employment law cannot simultaneously be satisfied. Further, if promotion standards are chosen to maximize profit, the standards will reflect gender in ways that are difficult to distinguish from discriminatory intent.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14464.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14464.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
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Publication status: published as Scotchmer, Suzanne, 2008. "Risk taking and gender in hierarchies," Theoretical Economics, Society for Economic Theory, vol. 3(4), pages 499-524, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14464
Note: LE LS
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  11. Richard Startz & Lundberg, . "Private Discrimination and Social Intervention in Competitive Labor Markets," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 19-81, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
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  13. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-30, October.
  14. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & Nancy Lutz & V. Padmanbhan, 1997. "Playing it Safe: Men, Women, and Risk Aversion," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-42, Monash University, Department of Economics.
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