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Gender Differences in Risk Aversion: Do Single-Sex Environments Affect Their Development?

56 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2011  

Alison L. Booth

Australian National University (ANU) - Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Lina Cardona

University of Essex

Patrick J. Nolen

University of Essex

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Abstract

Single-sex classes within coeducational environments are likely to modify students' risk-taking attitudes in economically important ways. To test this, we designed a controlled experiment using first year college students who made choices over real-stakes lotteries at two distinct dates. Students were randomly assigned to classes of three types: all female, all male, and coeducational. They were not allowed to change group subsequently. We found that women are less likely to make risky choices than men at both dates. However, after eight weeks in a single-sex environment, women were significantly more likely to choose the lottery than their counterparts in coeducational groups. These results are robust to the inclusion of controls for IQ and for personality type, as well as to a number of sensitivity tests. Our findings suggest that observed gender differences in behaviour under uncertainty found in previous studies might partly reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits.

Keywords: gender, risk preferences, single-sex groups, cognitive ability

JEL Classification: C9, C91, C92, J16, D01, D80, J16, J24

Suggested Citation

Booth, Alison L. and Cardona, Lina and Nolen, Patrick J., Gender Differences in Risk Aversion: Do Single-Sex Environments Affect Their Development?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6133. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1965150

Alison L. Booth (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) - Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia
+61 2 6125 3285 (Phone)
+61 2 6125 0182 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Lina Cardona

University of Essex

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Patrick J. Nolen

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

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