Buser, Thomas Putterman, Louis van der Weele, Joël
Year of Publication:
Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 16-063/I
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 disentangle these potential mechanisms. We find that when choosing to redistribute income as a disinterested observer, women choose higher tax rates than men when initial income depends on performance in a task but not when it is randomly allocated. In a veil of ignorance condition with uncertainty about the income position of the decision maker, this effect is even stronger, leading to a 10ppt gender difference in average chosen tax rates in the performance conditions. We find that this gender difference is mainly due to men being more (over)confident about their task performance and the resulting income position, with gender differences in risk aversion and social preferences playing a minor role.