TWO NEW WORKING PAPERS

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Gender differences in the propensity to negotiate are often used to explain the gender wage gap, popularizing the push for women to “lean-in.” We use a laboratory experiment to examine the effect of leaning-in. Despite men and women achieving similar and positive returns when they must negotiate, we find that women avoid negotiations more often than men. While this suggests that women would benefit from leaning-in, a direct test of the counterfactual proves otherwise. Women appear to positively select into negotiations and to know when to ask. By contrast, we find no significant evidence of a positive selection for men.

We conduct a laboratory experiment on the determinants of beliefs about own and others’ ability across different domains. A preliminary look at the data points to two distinct forces: miscalibration in estimating performance depending on the difficulty of tasks and gender stereotypes. We develop a theoretical model that separates these forces and apply it to analyze a large laboratory dataset in which participants estimate their own and a partner’s performance on questions across six subjects: arts and literature, emotion recognition, business, verbal reasoning, mathematics, and sports. We find that participants greatly overestimate not only their own ability but also that of others, suggesting that miscalibration is a substantial, first order factor in stated beliefs. Women are better calibrated than men, providing more accurate estimates of ability both for themselves and for others. Gender stereotypes also have strong predictive power for beliefs, particularly for men’s beliefs about themselves and others’ beliefs about the ability of men. Our findings help interpret evidence on gender gaps in self-confidence.

SPOTLIGHT: MURIEL NIEDERLE

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– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

Muriel Niederle is a Professor of Economics at Stanford University. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a Research Associate of the NBER. Muriel is an Associate Editor of the Journal of European Economic Association, Quantitative Economics, and AEJ: Microeconomics. Her research concentrates on behavioral and experimental economics, with emphasis on gender and market design related topics. Muriel’s work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Journal of Political Economy, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

I am particularly fond of Muriel’s experimental work on gender differences in competitive environments. Along with various co-authors, she finds that:

(1) As the competitiveness of the environment increases, men’s performance increases significantly, but not women’s.

(2) “This effect is stronger when women have to compete against men than in single-sex competitive environments: this suggests that women may be able to perform in competitive environments per se.”

(3) “Women shy away from competition and men embrace it.”

(4) Among secondary school students in the Netherlands, “although boys and girls display similar levels of academic ability, boys choose substantially more prestigious academic tracks, where more prestigious tracks are more math- and science-intensive…Boys are also substantially more competitive than girls…Competitiveness is strongly positively correlated with choosing more prestigious academic tracks even conditional on academic ability…The gender difference in competitiveness accounts for a substantial portion (about 20%) of the gender difference in track choice.”

For more information about Muriel and her research, check out her website. It has a lot of interesting stuff! She also blogs about experimental and behavioral economics here.

 

SPOTLIGHT: MICHELE TERTILT

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– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

Michele Tertilt is a Professor of Economics at the University of Mannheim in Germany. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and worked as an Assistant Professor at Stanford University before joining Mannheim. Michele is a Managing Editor at the Review of Economic Studies and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Development Economics. She is also a Research Affiliate at BREAD and the European Development Research Network (EUDN) and a Research Fellow at CEPR.

Michele’s research concentrates on macroeconomics with a special focus on development and intra-family interactions. Her work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Journal of Political Economy, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies.

One of her papers, jointly written with Matthias Doepke, that I really like is “Women’s Liberation: What’s in it for men?” “The nineteenth century witnessed dramatic improvements in the legal rights of married women. Given that they took place long before women gained the right to vote, these changes amounted to a voluntary renouncement of power by men.” In this paper, they “investigate men’s incentives for sharing power with women.” They “show that men face a tradeoff between the rights they want for their own wives (namely none) and the rights of other women in the economy. Men prefer other men’s wives to have rights because men care about their own daughters and because an expansion of women’s rights increases educational investments in children.” They “show that men may agree to relinquish some of their power once technological change increases the importance of human capital.” They corroborate this “argument with historical evidence on the expansion of women’s rights in England and the United States.”

For more information about Michele and her research, check out her website.

Diversity in the Economics Profession

From a paper by Amanda Bayer and Cecilia Rouse in the latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives:

The economics profession includes disproportionately few women and members of historically underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups, relative both to the overall population and to other academic disciplines. This underrepresentation within the field of economics is present at the undergraduate level, continues into the ranks of the academy, and is barely improving over time. It likely hampers the discipline, constraining the range of issues addressed and limiting our collective ability to understand familiar issues from new and innovative perspectives. In this paper, we first present data on the numbers of women and underrepresented minority groups in the profession. We then offer an overview of current research on the reasons for the underrepresentation, highlighting evidence that may be less familiar to economists. We argue that implicit attitudes and institutional practices may be contributing to the underrepresentation of women and minorities at all stages of the pipeline, calling for new types of research and initiatives to attack the problem. We then review evidence on how diversity affects productivity and propose remedial interventions as well as findings on effectiveness. We identify several promising practices, programs, and areas for future research.

 

SPOTLIGHT: ELIANA LA FERRARA

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– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

Eliana La Ferrara is a Professor of Economics at Bocconi University, Italy. She received a Ph.D. degree from Harvard University and is currently the Vice President of the European Economic Association, a Fellow at BREAD and CEPR, and is affiliated with several other organizations. She serves on the editorial boards of Italian Economic Journal, Journal of African Economies, The World Bank Economic Review, and World Development.

Eliana’s research interests lie in the fields of development economics, political economics, and public economics. Her work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review and the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

I find almost all of Eliana’s research super interesting, but here I want to highlight just one of her papers that shows how media influences even very private decisions such as how many children people have. With co-authors Alberto Chong and Suzanne Duryea, Eliana estimates the impact of Brazilian soap operas—telenovelas—on fertility outcomes. These soap operas portray families that are much smaller than in reality. Their “content analysis of 115 novelas aired…in the two time slots with highest audience between 1965 and 1999 reveals that 72 percent of the main female characters (age 50 and lower) had no children at all, and 21 percent had only one child. This is in marked contrast with the prevalent fertility rates in Brazilian society over the same period.” They exploit “differences in the timing of entry into different markets of Rede Globo, the main novela producer, and find that women living in areas covered by Globo have significantly lower fertility.” They also find that “parents living in areas that are reached by Globo are significantly more likely to name their children after the main characters of novelas aired in the year in which the children are born,” suggesting that the effects are driven by novelas and not just television.

For more information about Eliana and her research, check out her website.

Notables

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Early NASA computers (Source: NASA)

Hidden Figures: The untold story of the black women mathematicians who powered early space exploration.

What programming’s past reveals about today’s gender pay gap.

Rural Indian girls chase big-city dreams.

Donald Trump’s new anti-abortion letter should terrify you.

Making House: Notes on domesticity

Lastly, can it be summer break again, please?

Notables

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  • Does Rosie like Riveting? A new NBER working paper on occupational tastes of men and women. The “results suggest that women may care more about job content, and this is a possible factor preventing them from entering some male-dominated professions.”

 

 

 

 

SPOTLIGHT: ORIANA BANDIERA

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– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

Oriana Bandiera is a Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics. She received a Ph.D. degree from Boston College and BSc/ MSc degrees from Bocconi University. Oriana is also the Director of STICERD and a co-director at IGC and CEPR. She is a co-editor of JOLE and Economica and serves on the editorial boards of EJ, JDE, JEEA, and JEL.

Oriana’s research analyses organizations and labor markets in different settings. Her work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies.

One of her papers that I really like is “Social Incentives in the Workplace,”(joint work with Iwan Barankay and Imran Rasul) where she tests if workers’ behavior is affected by the presence of those they are socially tied to. They find that “compared to when she has no social ties with her co-workers, a given worker’s productivity is significantly higher when she works alongside friends who are more able than her, and significantly lower when she works with friends who are less able than her. The distribution of worker ability is such that the net effect of social incentives on the firm’s aggregate performance is positive. The results suggest that firms can exploit social incentives as an alternative to monetary incentives to motivate workers.”

For more information about Oriana and her research, check out her website. Oriana will be one of the speakers at the Human and Economic Development Seminar at BC this semester.

 

The Public Voice of Women

 

An excellent talk by the English Classical scholar Mary Beard, given during the 2014 London Review of Books’ Winter Lecture Series, on how the public voice of women has been silenced or altered or niched throughout history and how that reflects and continues in the contemporary world. An hour long, but well worth the time.

The text of her full speech is here.

(h/t Policy Tensor)