Gender, Willingness to Compete and Career Choices Along the Whole Ability Distribution

39 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2017

See all articles by Thomas Buser

Thomas Buser

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE)

Noemi Peter

University of Groningen

Stefan C. Wolter

Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (SKBF); University of Bern - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

Men are generally found to be more willing to compete than women and there is growing evidence that willingness to compete is a predictor of individual and gender differences in career decisions and labor market outcomes. However, most existing evidence comes from the top of the education and talent distribution. In this study, we use incentivized choices from more than 1500 Swiss lower-secondary school students to ask how the gender gap in willingness to compete varies with ability and how willingness to compete predicts career choices along the whole ability distribution. Our main results are: 1. The gender gap in willingness to compete is essentially zero among the lowest-ability students, but increases steadily with ability and reaches 30–40 percentage points for the highest-ability students. 2. Willingness to compete predicts career choices along the whole ability distribution. At the top of the ability distribution, students who compete are more likely to choose a math or science-related academic specialization and girls who compete are more likely to choose academic over vocational education in general. At the middle, competitive boys are more likely to choose a business-oriented apprenticeship, while competitive girls are more likely to choose a math-intensive apprenticeship or an academic education. At the bottom, students who compete are more likely to succeed in securing an apprenticeship position. We also discuss how our findings relate to persistent gender differences in career outcomes.

Keywords: willingness to compete, gender, career decisions, experiment

JEL Classification: C91, D03, J01, J16

Suggested Citation

Buser, Thomas and Peter, Noemi and Wolter, Stefan C., Gender, Willingness to Compete and Career Choices Along the Whole Ability Distribution. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10976. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3029848

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/

Noemi Peter

University of Groningen ( email )

P.O. Box 800
Groningen, Groningen 9700 AV
Netherlands

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

Stefan C. Wolter

Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (SKBF) ( email )

CH - 5000 Aarau
Switzerland
+41 62 835 23 90 (Phone)
+41 62 835 23 99 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.skbf-csre.ch

University of Bern - Department of Economics ( email )

Gesellschaftstrasse 49
Bern, CH-3012
Switzerland
+41 31 631 40 95 (Phone)
+41 31 631 39 92 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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