Journal Article

Overconfidence and gender gaps in redistributive preferences: Cross-Country experimental evidence


  • Grimalda
  • G.
  • Buser
  • T.
  • Putterman
  • L.
  • van der Weele
  • J.
Publication Date

Gender differences in voting patterns and political attitudes towards redistribution are well-documented. The experimental gender literature suggests several plausible behavioral explanations behind these differences, relating to gender differences in confidence concerning future relative income position, risk aversion, and social preferences. We use data from lab experiments on preferences for redistribution conducted in the U.S. and several European countries to investigate gender differences and their causes. On aggregate, women’ s demand for redistribution is higher than men’ s, but the differences vary considerably across locations and countries. Moreover, the gender difference appears only when the source of inequality is based on relative abilities, but not when it is based on luck. Our most robust finding is that across all sampled locations, men’ s relatively higher (over)confidence in their abilities, in comparison to women, leads them to specify lower redistribution levels. We discuss the role of confidence in accounting for gender differences in political and redistributive choices outside the lab.


JEL Classification
C91; J16; H24; D31

Key Words

  • Gender
  • overconfidence
  • Redistribution
  • risk attitude
  • Selbstüberschätzung
  • Taxation
  • Voting

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