The State Street Mile: Age and Gender Differences in Competition Aversion in the Field

10 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2012

See all articles by Rodney Garratt

Rodney Garratt

Independent

Catherine J. Weinberger

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Institute for Social, Behavioral and Economic Research (ISBER)

Nick Johnson

Andersen Tax

Date Written: January 2013

Abstract

Gender differences in “competitiveness,” previously documented in laboratory experiments, are hypothesized to play a role in a wide array of economic outcomes. This paper provides evidence of competition aversion in a natural setting somewhere between the simplicity of a laboratory experiment and the full complexity and ambiguity of a labor market. The “State Street Mile” race offers both male and female participants a choice between two different levels of competition. Large, systematic age and gender differences are observed in the relationship between true ability and the decision to enter the more competitive race. Overall, qualified women and older runners are far less likely than qualified young men to enter a competitive race with prizes. However, the fastest young women unanimously enter the competitive race. Therefore, while we confirm age and gender differences in competitiveness in our field setting, the economic consequences to capable young women are rather small.

JEL Classification: J1, J7, M5

Suggested Citation

Garratt, Rodney and Weinberger, Catherine J. and Johnson, Nick, The State Street Mile: Age and Gender Differences in Competition Aversion in the Field (January 2013). Economic Inquiry, Vol. 51, Issue 1, pp. 806-815, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2182964 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2011.00370.x

Catherine J. Weinberger

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Institute for Social, Behavioral and Economic Research (ISBER) ( email )

Santa Barbara, CA
United States

Nick Johnson

Andersen Tax ( email )

200 Page Mill Road
Suite 150
Palo Alto, CA 94306
United States

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