Gender Differences in Willingness to Compete: The Role of Culture and Institutions

49 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2016

See all articles by Alison L. Booth

Alison L. Booth

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

Elliott Fan

National Taiwan University

Xin Meng

Australian National University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Dandan Zhang

National School of Development, Peking University

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Date Written: November 2016

Abstract

In the laboratory experiment reported in this paper we explore how evolving institutions and social norms, which we label 'culture', change individuals' preferences and behaviour in mainland China. From 1949 China experienced dramatic changes in its socioeconomic institutions. These began with communist central planning and the establishment of new social norms, including the promotion of gender equality in place of the Confucian view of female 'inferiority'. Market-oriented reforms, begun in 1978, helped China achieve unprecedented economic growth and at the same time Marxist ideology was gradually replaced by the acceptance of individualistic free-market ideology. During this period, many old traditions crept back and as a consequence social norms gradually changed again. In our experiment we investigate gender differences in competitive choices across different birth cohorts of individuals who, during their crucial developmental-age, were exposed to one of the two regimes outlined above. In particular we investigate gender differences in competitive choices for different birth cohorts in Beijing using their counterparts in Taipei (subject to the same original Confucian traditions) to control for the general time trend. Our findings confirm: (i) that females in Beijing are significantly more likely to compete than females from Taipei; (ii) that Beijing females from the 1958 birth cohort are more competitive than their male counterparts as well as more competitive than later Beijing birth cohorts; and (iii) that for Taipei there are no statistically significant differences across cohort or gender in willingness to compete. In summary, our findings confirm that exposure to different institutions and social norms during the crucial developmental age changes individuals' behaviour. Our findings also provide further evidence that gender differences in economic preferences are not innately determined.

Keywords: behavioural economics, competitive choices, Culture, economic preferences, Gender

JEL Classification: C9, C91, C92, D03, J16, P3, P5

Suggested Citation

Booth, Alison L. and Fan, Elliott and Meng, Xin and Zhang, Dandan, Gender Differences in Willingness to Compete: The Role of Culture and Institutions (November 2016). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11629, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2869084

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)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Elliott Fan

National Taiwan University ( email )

1 Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road
Taipei 106, 106
Taiwan

Xin Meng

Australian National University ( email )

Research School of Economics
College of Business and Economics
Canberra ACT 0200
Australia
+61 26249 3102 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Dandan Zhang

National School of Development, Peking University ( email )

Beijing, 100871
China

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