Second-Order Beliefs and Gender
47 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2020 Last revised: 21 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 4, 2020
Beliefs about beliefs---second-order beliefs---about the differences between populations are important to understanding differences in outcomes between those populations. To study their potential impact, we develop an incentive-compatible experimental framework for eliciting beliefs (first-order) and beliefs about beliefs (second-order) about the differences in any measurable characteristics between any two populations. We implement the procedure to study beliefs about the performance of men and women on math and abstract bargaining tasks. In the math task, 78% of participants believe that most men believe men outscore women. In contrast, 34% believe that most women believe men outscore women. Despite these differences in second-order beliefs, we observe no such difference in first-order beliefs. The pattern of results is similar in the bargaining task. These results have important labor market implications for the persistence of gender gaps.
Keywords: Higher-Order Beliefs, Gender, Experimental Methods
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