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Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity


  • Lex Borghans

    (Maastricht University)

  • Bart H.H. Golsteyn

    (Maastricht University and IZA)

  • James J. Heckman

    (University of Chicago and University College Dublin)

  • Huub Meijers

    (Maastricht University)


This paper demonstrates gender differences in risk aversion and ambiguity aversion. It also contributes to a growing literature relating economic preference parameters to psychological measures by asking whether variations in preference parameters among persons, and in particular across genders, can be accounted for by differences in personality traits and traits of cognition. Women are more risk averse than men. Over an initial range, women require no further compensation for the introduction of ambiguity but men do. At greater levels of ambiguity, women have the same marginal distaste for increased ambiguity as men. Psychological variables account for some of the interpersonal variation in risk aversion. They explain none of the differences in ambiguity.

Suggested Citation

  • Lex Borghans & Bart H.H. Golsteyn & James J. Heckman & Huub Meijers, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity," Working Papers 200903, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:200903

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