Gender and Economic Decision-making - An Experimental Study

Project leader

Funding source

Forte - Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2007
End date: 31/12/2008
Funding: 2700000 SEK


In this project we study differences in economic decision-making between men and women. Empirical knowledge about such differences is important in determining which policies are most suited to improve gender equality in society and in the working life.

The purpose of the project is to investigate how men and women act and interact when making economic decisions. This is done using controlled experiments where men and women, individually and in small groups, act in different game situations. The games describe realistic economic decision situations in stylised form. We focus on two basic games, “Prisoner’s dilemma” and “Trust game”. In both games, cooperation would improve welfare, but cooperation is made difficult since the parties are tempted to promote their own individual goals.

A number of different questions can be put to the data material generated by these experiments. Are, for example, women more generous towards other women, or towards men? Do men cooperate more with other men than with women? Do groups with mixed gender composition take more efficient decisions, or is the gender composition of the group without importance for decisions?

The insights from this research may be of great importance for the understanding of gender segregation in general, and the functioning of groups like boards and work teams. This could conceivably inform policy decisions on the optimal share of women in boards of governance, optimal formation of work teams, etc. An understanding of whether men and women act differently depending on the gender of the opposing party can also lead to a better understanding of wage bargaining.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:59