Nagore Iriberri, Pedro Rey Biel, 24 October 2016

The underrepresentation of women in top positions within firms is well documented. One potential contributing factor could be that men and women respond differently to the competitive pressure inherent in firm hierarchies. This column investigates this idea in the context of a two-stage maths competition for students in Spain. Despite male and female students achieving similar grades at school, male students perform better in both stages of the contest. Importantly, the gender gap increases in the second stage, when the competitive pressure is greater.

Victor Gay, Daniel Hicks, Estefania Santacreu-Vasut, 10 September 2016

Evidence suggests that many forms of gender inequality are higher in countries where the language distinguishes gender. But these patterns could arise spuriously, as languages and other cultural institutions have co-evolved throughout history. This column uses an epidemiological approach to isolate language from other cultural forces and provide direct evidence on whether language matters. The findings suggest how gender roles have been shaped, how they are perpetuated, and, ultimately, how they can be changed.

Charles Yuji Horioka, Akiko Terada-Hagiwara, 06 September 2016

China’s one-child policy and a general preference for sons increased competition among grooms, whose families typically bear marriage expenses. This is believed to have increased household saving in the country. This column explores whether the same is observed in other countries with unbalanced sex ratios. Premarital sex ratios are found to have a significant impact on household saving rates in India and Korea, with the direction of the effect dependent on whether the bride’s (India) or groom’s (Korea) family is typically expected to bear the brunt of marriage-related expenses.

Pelin Akyol, James Key, Kala Krishna, 24 August 2016

Guessing answers can undermine the effectiveness of multiple choice exams. Negative marking, in which incorrect answers are penalised, can limit guessing, but may bias the test against risk-averse test takers. Using Turkish university admission exam data, this column explores whether negative marking biases exams, particularly against women, who tend to be more risk averse. Differences in risk aversion appear to have a limited impact, especially for good students. 

Wolfgang Frimmel, Martin Halla, Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 18 August 2016

It has been widely demonstrated that parental divorce is associated with negative outcomes for affected children. However, the degree of causality in this relationship is not as clear. This column tackles this problem by using the level of gender integration in fathers’ workplaces as an instrument for divorce. The results suggest a causal link between divorce and worse economic outcomes that persists into early adulthood. 

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