Schedule - Parallel Session 3 - Gender Differences

Engineering F1.10 (note the change of room from F105-106 to F1.10) - 15:40 - 17:10

Risk Taking in Social Contexts: The Role of Nurture

Andreas Friedl; Andreas Pondorfer; Ulrich Schmidt


The present paper analyzes risk taking in a social context focusing on two specific aspects, nurture and gender. We employ a design where the risky decisions of a subject influence also the payoff of another individual. Our main innovations are that we (i) take into account the role of nurture by running our experiment in two rather different subject pools, German students and a sample from Papua New Guinea, and (ii) analyze gender differences. Our subjects from Papua New Guinea were sampled from the Teops and are part of an egalitarian society. Therefore, analyzing their behavior in comparison to Western sample seems ideal for studying the impact of nurture on social risk taking depending on e.g. inequality aversion. Moreover, the Teop society is matrilineal. Given this opposite role of gender compared to Western societies, the influence of nurture for gender differences in social risk taking could be well analyzed with our two samples. We find that Social risk taking is different across societies. Extending the risk to others moderately increases risk aversion in Germany but has no effect in Papua New Guinea. Extending the risk to others influences differently risk taking behavior of men and women among individualists but not among egalitarians. This point to a strong influence of nurture on risk preferences in social contexts.

Andreas Friedl

Research Economist, Kiel Institute for the World Economy

That's Just -- Not Fair: Gender Differences in Notions of Justice

Jan Heufer; Nicole Becker; Kirsten Haeger


There are at least two possible reasons for why people demand redistribution: immediate self-interest, and concerns for distributional justice. A voter with a high income should oppose more redistribution from high to low income individuals, while a voter with low income should support it. Pure concern for distributional justice however does not depend on self-interest. While many voters may favor more equal distributions per se, some might worry that it leads to deadweight loss, reducing overall wealth. They might prefer a higher level of wealth even if it comes at the cost of inequality. This preference for efficiency over equality is an example of a notion of justice. Interestingly, women tend to be more in favor of redistribution than men (Edlund and Pande 2002). Is this based on self-interest, or do they have different ideas about distributional justice? In Becker et al. (2013a,b), we proposed a theory to explain giving behaviour in dictator games by a combination of self-interest and preferences over just distributions. We used a dictator game with varying transfer rates as in Andreoni and Vesterlund (2001) and Andreoni and Miller (2002) to measure self-interest, and a social planner (Dickinson and Tiefenthaler 2002) and a veil of ignorance game (Rawls 1971, Schildberg-Hörisch 2010) to learn about individual notions of justice. In this paper, we analyze the results of this experiment with a specific focus on gender differences. In our dictator game, we replicate the result of Andreoni and Vesterlund (2001): we find that men react more strongly to changes in the transfer rates. However, while Andreoni and Vesterlund (2001) find that men are somewhat more selfish as they give less on average, we find that men give more on average, although the difference is insignificant. We find that gender differences in the social planner and veil of ignorance games are even stronger than in the dictator game; in particular, women are far more concerned with equality than men. While this result may not be surprising per se, the combination of the two experiments allows us to test if differences in giving behavior in the dictator game are due to differences in self-interest between men and women. We find strong evidence that this is not the case: Differences in the dictator game can be explained by differences in the notion of justice. In situations where women give more money than men, this is not because men are more selfish, but because men feel that the situation does not warrant passing a great amount as it would be inefficient to do so. In situations where men give more money than women, this is not because women are more selfish, but because women feel that passing a great amount would not be just as they prefer more equal outcomes. We employ both parametric (CES estimates) and novel non-parametric techniques developed in Becker et al. (2013a) and partially inspired by Karni and Safra (2002b), both of which confirm the results.

Jan Heufer

Assistant Professor, Erasmus School of Economics

Risk Taking in Groups: One Woman is Not Enough

Katharina Lima de Miranda; Ulrich Schmidt; Lena Detlefsen; Kateryna Ukrainets


Risk taking behavior of individuals has been shown to be influenced by personal characteristics, such as gender or age, and by the decision context “for example whether a decision is taken individually or within a group. In particular, gender differences in risk taking on the individual level have been intensively discussed in the economics literature. The predominant finding is that women are more risk averse than men (e.g. Charness and Gneezy, 2012). In contrast to individual decisions, relatively little evidence exists on how the groups’ gender composition influences its risk taking. This is striking as many important economic decisions are made by groups of individuals, and with the introduction of women quotas in many European countries it has been widely discussed in the public. Only a small body of literature exists related to group decisions. One strand of the literature investigates risk taking in experimental settings with mixed results on whether groups tend to take less risk (e.g. Masclet et al., 2009; Baker et al. 2008) or more risk than individuals (e.g. Sutter, 2007; Nieboer 2015). In relation to the groups’ gender composition, there are some empirical studies with firm data which find evidence for better performance of mixed-gender teams, possibly related to less risk taking (Bansak et al., 2011) but not necessarily (Adams and Ragunathan, 2015). There are also some field experiments which find that mixed teams perform better in business games (Apesteguia et al., 2012; Hoogendorn et al., 2013). Whether differences in risk taking in mixed or single-sex groups are the factor driving the results remains unclear. This study contributes to the literature by analyzing how the gender composition influences a groups’ risk taking. We conducted an incentivized experiment in which groups of 3 subjects had to make a risky decision. We find that on average risk taking of groups increases with the number of male participants, which is in line with Nieboer (2015). Purely male groups take significantly more risk than purely female groups and mixed gender groups lies in between. Furthermore, we find that purely female and female dominated groups take less risk than the average individual decision, while purely male and male dominated groups take more risk than they would on average individually. This stands in contrast to the findings of Sutter (2007) and Nieboer (2015), who report that groups take higher risks than individuals independent of their gender composition, but supports the group polarization phenomenon (Myers and Lamm, 1976). In our sample having one woman in an otherwise male group will not significantly change risk taking of that group. Our results therefore point into the direction that if a women’s quota is implemented, a 30% quota, as for example implemented in Germany in 2015 for the DAX companies, might not be enough to significantly induce a change in decisions under risk.

Katharina Lima de Miranda

PhD Student, Kiel University

Revealed Different

Mikhail Freer; Marco Castillo


How heterogeneous are individual preferences? Are men’s preferences more heterogeneous than women’s? Do preferences become less diverse with age? We use revealed preference analysis to answer these questions. In particular, we investigate the nature of the revealed different relation: two people are revealed different if their individual decisions considered jointly are less rational than their individual decisions considered separately. We show that the revealed different relation is useful not only in characterizing the heterogeneity of preferences non-parametrically, but also in evaluating the potential biases generated by imposing additional assumptions on preferences. Using data from a random sample of Dutch population we find that: 1) heterogeneity is a persistent feature of the data, 2) men have more diverse preferences than women and younger people while different from older people are not more diverse, 3) Stricter assumptions on preferences lead to an underestimation of the heterogeneity of preferences. The revealed different relation as defined above is complete and symmetric and it is well defined whether preferences are consistent with rationality or not. This definition is most appealing when the measure of distance to rationality is monotonic on the number of individual decisions (as in Afriat’s critical cost efficiency index). Since the revealed different relation is a summary statistics that does not require making parametric assumption about preferences, the relation can be used to directly test if observe heterogeneity in preferences is due to observed demographic differences. We find little evidence that heterogeneity in preferences is due to observed individual characteristics. Finally, we find that the revealed different approach is most informative when multiple decisions per individual are available. When only cross-sectional data is available (i.e. each individual trivially satisfies rationality) lack of differences between individuals might be due to lack of power to detect deviations from rational behavior.

Mikhail Freer

PhD Student, George Mason University