Gender and Financial Misconduct: A Field Experiment on Mobile Money
76 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2020 Last revised: 5 Aug 2020
Date Written: December 23, 2019
We design a field experiment to study gender differences in misconduct, a significant yet poorly understood issue. We construct a census of the market for mobile banking in rural Ghanaian villages, and using actual transactional audits estimate that 1 out of every 5 mobile money transactions is overcharged relative to a mandated rate. In an experiment, we randomize the matches between vendors and customers, finding strong evidence of “gender misconduct gap”: female vendors are 10 percentage points (pp) (+44%) more likely to commit such misconduct relative to male vendors. The nature of misconduct is asymmetric: female vendors are 8 pp more likely to cheat customers of their gender; in contrast, male vendors are 11 pp less likely to cheat customers of their gender. We present evidence suggesting gender differences in empowerment, and beliefs about gender among vendors and customers as relevant mechanisms. Several other possible mechanisms are ruled out empirically. Our findings raise important issues at the intersection of economics and culture, and indicate that preexisting social distance (particularly unequal gender empowerment and gendered beliefs) can incentivize undesirable market outcomes and may be an important source of local financial market frictions.
Keywords: Discrimination and forensics, Household finance and fintech, Culture and misconduct
JEL Classification: J16, O12, D18, G23, Z13, G41
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