Sex-Difference in Risk-Taking and Promotions in Hierarchies: Evidence from Females in Legislatures
U.S. House of Representatives
August 31, 2011
Journal of Law and Economics, Forthcoming
FSU College of Law, Law, Business & Economics Paper No. 11-16
FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 535
Suzanne Scotchmer (2008) showed how a sex difference in risk taking can cause promotional patterns to differ across sex, even if discrimination is absent and candidate-ability is identically distributed across males and females. In this model, (1) winner-take-all promotions favor risk-taking males, but (2) promoted females enjoy greater ability and (3) see this advantage depreciate with repeated play. We find evidence for each of these implications – first in how the sex composition of national legislatures differs across electoral mechanisms (winner-take-all chambers employ a significantly greater proportion of males), and second in how re-election prospects for US Representatives differ by sex (females expect longer durations in a winner-take-all chamber, but only when evaluated early in their incumbencies). These results cannot easily be dismissed as statistical artifacts, are difficult to rationalize within received models, and have important implications for affirmative action doctrines and corporate fiduciary duties.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: Winner-take-all games, endogenous preference formation, risk aversion, electoral rules, female representation in legislatures, affirmative action, corporate law
JEL Classification: B52, D72, J16, J71, J78
Date posted: September 2, 2011 ; Last revised: September 8, 2011
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