Are Men More Optimistic?

54 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2007 Last revised: 21 Jan 2009

See all articles by Ben Jacobsen

Ben Jacobsen

Tilburg University - TIAS School for Business and Society; Massey University

John B. Lee

University of Auckland

Wessel Marquering

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Financial Management

Date Written: February 1, 2008


Men are strikingly more optimistic about the future performance of key economic and financial indicators than women. We report surprisingly strong and highly significant gender differences in consumer confidence data of seventeen out of eighteen countries, including the US. We confirm these findings using data from US and European Gallup opinion polls. This gender difference is present in key indicators such as economic growth, interest rates, inflation and future stock market performance and persists after we control for income, employment, wealth, education and marital status. Our results hold regardless whether we consider questions about respondent's personal future economic situation or the general state of the economy. This suggests that the optimism we document in this study is different from the well-documented overconfidence phenomenon, as it extends beyond the personal influence sphere of respondents. We also document significant gender differences in perceived stock market risk. Thus, we show that not only differences in risk aversion but also differences in optimism and perceived risk may explain why women hold on average less risky portfolios than men.

Keywords: Optimism, Pessimism, Gender Difference, Consumer Confidence, Economic Indicators, Risk Aversion

JEL Classification: D1, D8, D9, G11, Z1

Suggested Citation

Jacobsen, Ben and Lee, John B. and Marquering, Wessel A., Are Men More Optimistic? (February 1, 2008). Available at SSRN:

Ben Jacobsen (Contact Author)

Tilburg University - TIAS School for Business and Society ( email )

Warandelaan 2
TIAS Building
Tilburg, Noord Brabant 5037 AB

Massey University ( email )

New Zealand

John B. Lee

University of Auckland ( email )

Private Bag 92019
Auckland, 1001
New Zealand
649 373 7599 ext. 85171 (Phone)
649 373 7406 (Fax)

Wessel A. Marquering

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Financial Management ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Rotterdam 3000 DR
+31 10 408 2786 (Phone)
+31 10 408 9017 (Fax)

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