Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research

No 10/2018: Gender, risk preferences and willingness to compete in a random sample of the Swedish population

Anne Boschini , Anna Dreber , Emma von Essen , Astri Muren and Eva Ranehill
Additional contact information
Anne Boschini: Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, Postal: SOFI, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Anna Dreber: Department of Economics, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics
Emma von Essen: Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, Postal: SOFI, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Astri Muren: Department of Economics, Postal: Stockholm University,
Eva Ranehill: Department of Economics, Postal: Gothenburg University

Abstract: Experimental results from student or other non-representative convenience samples often suggest that men, on average, are more risk-taking and competitive than women. Here we explore whether these gender preference gaps also exist in a simple random sample of the Swedish adult population. Our design comprises four different treatments to systematically explore how the experimental context may impact gender gaps; a baseline treatment, a treatment where participants are primed with their own gender, and a treatment where the participants know the gender of their counterpart (man or woman). We look at willingness to compete in two domains: a math task and a verbal task. We find no gender differences in risk preferences or in willingness to compete in the verbal task in this random sample. There is some support for men being more competitive than women in the math task, in particular in the pooled sample. The effect size is however considerably smaller than what is typically found. We further find no consistent impact of treatment on (the absence of) the gender gap in preferences.

Keywords: Gender differences; competitiveness; risk-taking; experiment; random representativ sample

JEL-codes: C83; C91; D91

48 pages, October 17, 2018

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