Do Gays Shy Away from Competition? Do Lesbians Compete Too Much?

22 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2015

See all articles by Thomas Buser

Thomas Buser

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE)

Lydia Geijtenbeek

University of Amsterdam

Erik Plug

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE); Tinbergen Institute; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

It is an established fact that gay men earn less than other men and lesbian women earn more than other women. In this paper we study whether differences in competitive preferences, which have emerged as a likely determinant of labour market differences between men and women, can provide a plausible explanation. We conduct an experiment on a Dutch online survey panel to measure the competitiveness of gay, lesbian and straight panel members. For differences in competitiveness to partially explain sexual orientation differences in earnings, gay men would need to be less competitive than other men and lesbian women more competitive than other women. Our findings confirm this competitiveness hypothesis for men, but not for women. Gay men compete less than other men, while lesbian women compete as much as other women. Linking our experimental measure to survey data, we show that competitiveness is a significant predictor of earnings. Differences in competitiveness can account for a significant portion of the gay earnings penalty, but cannot explain the lesbian premium.

Keywords: experiments, sexual orientation, gender, competitiveness, education, earnings

JEL Classification: C90, J15, J16, J24, J31

Suggested Citation

Buser, Thomas and Geijtenbeek, Lydia and Plug, Erik, Do Gays Shy Away from Competition? Do Lesbians Compete Too Much?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9382. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2672168

Thomas Buser (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, North Holland 1018 WB
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/thomasbuser/

Lydia Geijtenbeek

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Erik Plug

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
1018 WB Amsterdam
Netherlands
+31 20 5254311 (Phone)
+31 20 5254310 (Fax)

Tinbergen Institute

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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