Monday, January 14, 2013

Correlates of Competitiveness and Gender Differences

I recently came across the following paper by Ingvild Almas, Alexander W. Cappelen, Kjell G. Salvanes,
Erik Ø. Sørensen and Bertil Tungodden "Willingness to Compete: Family Matters"

The abstract reads:

"This paper studies the results from a lab experiment with a representative sample of adolescents in Norway, where we link behavioral data from the experiment to official register data about family background. We show that family background is fundamental in two important ways. First, children from families where parents have low income and education are less willing to compete, even when controlling for confidence, performance, risk- and time preferences, social preferences, and psychological traits. Second, family background is crucial for understanding the observed large gender difference in willingness to compete. Girls from well-off families are much less willing to compete than boys, whereas we do not find any gender difference among children with low socioeconomic background."

I long suspected that differences in gender differences in competitiveness may be particularly stark among the "upper tail". It would be nice to know to what extent such differences are driven by an increase in competitiveness by males.

There is still a lot to be understood about the determinants of gender differences in competitiveness  and competitiveness in general and correlations with other variables. This seems even more important now that we have seen that competitiveness may predict education choices, which, of course, in turn can affect economic outcomes, see my former blogpost: Competitiveness and Career Choices

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