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Hunger and the gender gap

Yan Chen, Ming Jiang () and Erin L. Krupka ()
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Ming Jiang: Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Erin L. Krupka: University of Michigan

Experimental Economics, 2019, vol. 22, issue 4, No 6, 885-917

Abstract: Abstract Temporary changes in biological state, such as hunger, can impact decision making differently for men and women. Food scarcity is correlated with a host of negative economic outcomes. Two explanations for this correlation are that hunger affects economic preferences directly or that hunger creates a mindset that focuses on scarcity management to the detriment of other decisions. To test these predictions, we conduct a lab-in-the-field experiment in a health screening clinic in Shanghai, recruiting participants who finish their annual physical exam either before or after they have eaten breakfast. We compare the hungry and sated groups on their risk, time and generosity preferences as well as their cognitive performance. Our results show that men and women respond to hunger in opposite directions, thus hunger reduces the gender gap in decision quality, risk aversion and cognitive performance, but creates one in generosity. Finally, we examine several biomarkers and find that higher blood lipid levels are correlated with greater choice inconsistency, risk aversion and generosity. We contribute to emerging insights on the biological foundations for economic preferences and outcomes.

Keywords: Hunger; Scarcity; Gender; Risk preference; Altruism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D30 D81 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s10683-018-9589-9

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