Are Women Really More Risk-Averse than Men?

INET Research Note #012

45 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2012  

Julie A. Nelson

University of Massachusetts at Boston - Department of Economics; Tufts University - Global Development and Environment Institute

Date Written: September 21, 2012

Abstract

While a substantial literature in economics and finance has concluded that women are more risk averse than men, this conclusion merits reconsideration. Drawing on literatures in statistics and cognitive science, this essay discusses the important difference between drawing conclusions based on statistical inference, which concerns aggregates such as mean scores, and generalization, which posits characteristics of individuals classified into kinds. To supplement findings of statistical significance, quantitative measures of substantive difference (Cohen's d) and overlap (the Index of Similarity) are computed from the data on men, women, and risk used in 28 published articles. The results are considerably more mixed and overlapping than might be expected. Paying attention to empirical evidence that challenges subjective cultural beliefs about sex and risk has implications for labor economics, finance, and the economics of climate change.

Keywords: risk, women, gender, risk aversion, statistical inference

JEL Classification: C1, C9, J16

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Julie A., Are Women Really More Risk-Averse than Men? (September 21, 2012). INET Research Note #012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2158950 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2158950

Julie A. Nelson (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts at Boston - Department of Economics ( email )

100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.umb.edu/academics/cla/dept/economics/faculty/facultyNelson.html

Tufts University - Global Development and Environment Institute ( email )

MA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/about_us/researchers.html#nelson

Paper statistics

Downloads
733
Rank
26,960
Abstract Views
5,260