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Gender and Redistribution: Experimental Evidence

Listed author(s):
  • Thomas Buser

    (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Louis Putterman

    (Brown University, United States)

  • Joël van der Weele

    (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Gender differences in voting patterns and political attitudes towards redistribution are well-documented. The experimental gender literature suggests several plausible behavioral explanations behind these differences, relating to gender differences in confidence concerning future relative income position, risk aversion, and social preferences. We use data from lab experiments on preferences for redistribution conducted in the U.S. and several European countries to disentangle these potential mechanisms. We find that when choosing to redistribute income as a disinterested observer, women choose higher tax rates than men when initial income depends on performance in a task but not when it is randomly allocated. In a veil of ignorance condition with uncertainty about the income position of the decision maker, this effect is even stronger, leading to a 10ppt gender difference in average chosen tax rates in the performance conditions. We find that this gender difference is mainly due to men being more (over)confident about their task performance and the resulting income position, with gender differences in risk aversion and social preferences playing a minor role.

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Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 16-063/I.

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Date of creation: 23 Aug 2016
Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20160063
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  1. 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.
  2. Ruben Durante & Louis Putterman & Joël Weele, 2014. "Preferences For Redistribution And Perception Of Fairness: An Experimental Study," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 1059-1086, 08.
  3. James Andreoni & Lise Vesterlund, 2001. "Which is the Fair Sex? Gender Differences in Altruism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 293-312.
  4. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2005. "Preferences for redistribution in the land of opportunities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 897-931, June.
  5. Antonio Filippin & Paolo Crosetto, 2016. "A Reconsideration of Gender Differences in Risk Attitudes," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(11), pages 3138-3160, November.
  6. Patricia Funk & Christina Gathmann, 2015. "Gender gaps in policy making: evidence from direct democracy in Switzerland," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(81), pages 141-181.
  7. Christoph Engel, 2011. "Dictator games: a meta study," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(4), pages 583-610, November.
  8. Raymond Fisman & Pamela Jakiela & Shachar Kariv, 2014. "The Distributional Preferences of Americans," NBER Working Papers 20145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Clarke, Harold D. & Stewart, Marianne C. & Ault, Mike & Elliott, Euel, 2005. "Men, Women and the Dynamics of Presidential Approval," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(01), pages 31-51, January.
  10. Lucy F. Ackert & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider, 2007. "Social Preferences And Tax Policy Design: Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(3), pages 487-501, 07.
  11. Lena Edlund & Rohini Pande, 2002. "Why Have Women Become Left-Wing? The Political Gender Gap and the Decline in Marriage," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 917-961.
  12. Francesco Farina & Gianluca Grimalda, 2011. "A cross-country experimental comparison of preferences for redistribution," Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID) University of Siena 0211, Department of Economic Policy, Finance and Development (DEPFID), University of Siena.
  13. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
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