Equality of the Sexes and Gender Differences in Competitiveness: Experimental Evidence from a Traditional Society with Gender-Balanced Norms

41 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 2 Dec 2021

See all articles by Stefan Klonner

Stefan Klonner

Heidelberg University

Sumantra Pal

Leeds University; Ministryof Women and Child Development

Christiane Schwieren

Heidelberg University - South Asia Institute (SAI)

Abstract

Can gender-balanced social norms mitigate the gender gap in competitiveness that has been documented for modern as well as traditional patriarchic societies? We identify a society in northeast India where women and men have had similar rights and entitlements from time immemorial, to conduct the first lab-in-the-field experiment in a traditional society with gender-balanced norms. For reference we conduct the same competition experiments in adjoining traditional patriarchic and matrilineal societies. We find no significant gender difference in the inclination to compete in the gender-balanced society – unlike in the patriarchic society. We also find that women’s decisions in our experiment are payoff-maximizing more often than men’s in the gender-balanced society – opposite to the pattern encountered in the patriarchic society. Our results highlight the long-term effects of culture on economic behavior and indicate that the large gender gap in competitiveness documented for modern societies is a long-term consequence of their patriarchic foretime.

Keywords: Gender, competition, gender-balanced social norms, field experiment

Suggested Citation

Klonner, Stefan and Pal, Sumantra and Schwieren, Christiane, Equality of the Sexes and Gender Differences in Competitiveness: Experimental Evidence from a Traditional Society with Gender-Balanced Norms. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3940199

Stefan Klonner (Contact Author)

Heidelberg University ( email )

Grabengasse 1
Heidelberg, 69117
Germany

Sumantra Pal

Leeds University ( email )

Maurice Keyworth Building
University of Leeds
LEEDS, LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

Ministryof Women and Child Development ( email )

Room No. 59, DEA, North Block, New Delhi
Delhi, Delhi 110092
India
9899748257 (Phone)

Christiane Schwieren

Heidelberg University - South Asia Institute (SAI) ( email )

Heidelberg
Germany

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