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Do gender preference gaps impact policy outcomes?


Ranehill, Eva; Weber, Roberto A (2017). Do gender preference gaps impact policy outcomes? Working paper series / Department of Economics 271, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Many studies document systematic gender differences in a variety of important economic preferences, such as risk-taking, competition and pro-sociality. One potential implication of this literature is that increased female representation in decision-making bodies may significantly alter organizational and policy outcomes. However, research has yet to establish a direct connection from gender differences in simple economic choice tasks, to voting over policy and to the resulting outcomes. We conduct a laboratory experiment to provide a test of such a connection. In small laboratory “societies,” people repeatedly vote for a redistribution policy and engage in a real-effort production task. Women persistently vote for more egalitarian redistribution. This gender difference is large relative to other voting differences based on observable characteristics and is partly explained by gender gaps in preferences and beliefs. Gender voting gaps persist with experience and in environments with varying degrees of risk. We also observe policy differences between male- and female-controlled groups, though these are considerably smaller than the mean individual differences—a natural consequence of the aggregation of individual preferences into collective outcomes. Thus, we provide evidence for why substantial and robust gender differences in preferences may often fail to translate into differential policy outcomes with increased female representation in policymaking.

Abstract

Many studies document systematic gender differences in a variety of important economic preferences, such as risk-taking, competition and pro-sociality. One potential implication of this literature is that increased female representation in decision-making bodies may significantly alter organizational and policy outcomes. However, research has yet to establish a direct connection from gender differences in simple economic choice tasks, to voting over policy and to the resulting outcomes. We conduct a laboratory experiment to provide a test of such a connection. In small laboratory “societies,” people repeatedly vote for a redistribution policy and engage in a real-effort production task. Women persistently vote for more egalitarian redistribution. This gender difference is large relative to other voting differences based on observable characteristics and is partly explained by gender gaps in preferences and beliefs. Gender voting gaps persist with experience and in environments with varying degrees of risk. We also observe policy differences between male- and female-controlled groups, though these are considerably smaller than the mean individual differences—a natural consequence of the aggregation of individual preferences into collective outcomes. Thus, we provide evidence for why substantial and robust gender differences in preferences may often fail to translate into differential policy outcomes with increased female representation in policymaking.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:C91, C92, J16, H23
Uncontrolled Keywords:Gender differences, risk, altruism, redistributive preferences, experiment
Language:English
Date:November 2017
Deposited On:15 Nov 2017 13:15
Last Modified:19 Mar 2018 09:02
Series Name:Working paper series / Department of Economics
Number of Pages:56
ISSN:1664-7041
Additional Information:Auch erschienen als CESifo Working Paper, No. 6776
OA Status:Green
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp/econwp271.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/workingpapers.php

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