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GENDER DIFFERENCES IN RISK BEHAVIOUR: DOES NURTURE MATTER?

Alison L. Booth and Patrick Nolen

2015-06-01
Understanding the extent to which risk attitudes are innate or shaped by environment is important for policy

GENDER DIFFERENCES IN RISK BEHAVIOUR: DOES NURTURE MATTER?

Alison L. Booth and Patrick Nolen

GENDER DIFFERENCES IN RISK BEHAVIOUR: DOES NURTURE MATTER?

Using a controlled experiment, we investigate if individuals’ risk preferences are affected by:

1- The gender composition of the group to which they are randomly assigned.

2- The gender mix of the school they attend.

Our subjects, from eight publicly funded single-sex and coeducational schools, were asked to choose between a real-stakes lottery and a sure bet.

We found that girls in an all-girls group or attending a single-sex school were more likely than their coed counterparts to choose a real-stakes gamble. This suggests that observed gender differences in behaviour under uncertainty found in previous studies might reflect social learning rather than inherent gender traits. 

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Understanding the extent to which risk attitudes are innate or shaped by environment is important for policy

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