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Mating Strategies and Gender Differences in Pro-sociality: Theory and Evidence

Xiaofei Pan and Daniel Houser ()

CESifo Economic Studies, 2011, vol. 57, issue 4, 653-682

Abstract: This article examines gender differences in pro-sociality using theories from evolutionary psychology and empirical evidence from experimental economics. Although there has been extensive prior research in both fields, there remains a large disconnect between the source of gender differences in pro-sociality and experimental research aimed at informing cooperation and generosity. Thus, the main contribution of our article is to bridge this gap by arguing that differences in male and female motives for pro-sociality stem, at least in part, from gender differences in mating strategies. In particular, we discuss gender differences in: (i) signaling behaviors; (ii) conformance to social norms; and (iii) approaches toward resolving intra- and inter-group dilemmas. This article may be a useful resource for those hoping to gain a better understanding of the foundations of gender differences in pro-sociality; likewise, it draws useful attention to empirical research aimed at promoting charitable giving and enhancing resource allocation efficiency. (JEL codes: D03, D64) Copyright The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Munich. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com, Oxford University Press.

Date: 2011
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