Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Research Papers in Economics,
Stockholm University, Department of Economics

No 2009:15: Constructing Gender in the Economics Lab

Anne Boschini (), Astri Muren () and Mats Persson ()
Additional contact information
Anne Boschini: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Astri Muren: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Mats Persson: Institute for International Economic Studies, Postal: Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Several experimental studies on altruism have found women to be more generous than men. We investigate whether observed gender gaps in generosity can be explained by experimental setting, where some settings are more conducive than others to activating gender identity and social norms. In a dictator game we study priming along two dimensions: 1) some subjects enter their gender on the first page of the questionnaire (Pre) while others enter their gender on the last page (Post) and 2) some subjects are seated in single-sex rooms (Homogeneous) while others are seated in gender-mixed rooms (Mixed). It turns out that gender differences occur (women are more generous than men) only for the combination Pre and Mixed. The effect is driven by males: men are sensitive to priming, while women are not.

Keywords: Gender roles; social norms; altruism; generosity; dictator game; priming

JEL-codes: C91; D64; J16

50 pages, July 25, 2009

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