Study finds that gender or biological sex are not as important in economic decisions as previously thought

A study finds economic behavior that is not influenced by sex or biological sex

Investing in the risky lottery in Part 5 by treatment and subject groups in alphabetical order (n=780n=780). The bars show the average investment rate and the error bars represent the standard errors of the means. Credit: Scientific Reports (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-25141-1

Gender and gender assigned at birth are not as crucial in economic decisions as previously thought, a new study finds.

A new study published in Scientific Reports is the first analysis of the economic behavior of transgender and cisgender people and the first to examine whether sex assigned at birth plays a significant role in economic decisions.

Helena Fornwagner and Brit Grosskopf from the University of Exeter Business School and Alexander Lauf, Vanessa Schöller and Silvio Staedter (University of Regensburg) have for the first time examined the role of gender identity and biological sex in economic decisions.

Researchers looked at whether being transgender or cisgender influenced factors that might influence whether we apply for a new job, invest in a risky asset, or donate to charity.

In a controlled experimental study of 780 participants, about half of whom identified as transgender, they hypothesized that if gender identity determines levels of competitiveness, risk-taking, or altruism with money, those with the same gender identity (cis -men and trans men, and cis women and trans women) will make similar choices. Individuals with a different gender identity would make significantly different economic decisions. In addition, it was suggested that participants of the same biological sex (cis men and trans women or cis women and trans men) would behave similarly.

Researchers used a series of well-known economic experiments to determine how competitive participants were for money, risk-taking, and giving to charity. Before making any decisions, participants completed a basic word search exercise that unconsciously assigned them a male, female, or gender-neutral identity by asking them to find gender-specific words.

Using their study design, the researchers first test for a correlational effect of sex and sex by comparing the behaviors of cis men, cis women, trans men and trans women. Second, the priming intervention allowed causal inferences to be controlled for gender and behavior.

But unlike previous studies that have made links between gender and economic behavior, the researchers found that gender and sex actually make no significant difference in our economic decisions.

Part of their rationale for this unexpected finding is that educational initiatives and greater awareness of gender equality in personal and professional settings have narrowed any differences in economic behavior that studies first identified nearly two decades ago.

dr Fornwagner said: “It has long been reported that gender is a driving factor in areas such as competitiveness, risk-taking and altruism, but our study is the first to address just how much can be linked to gender and how much of that is based on the biological sex that humans are endowed with.

“Despite the results, some of which were unexpected, which led us to conclude that the role of sex and gender in economic behavior is not as crucial as previously thought, we believe there are several important takeaways from this study.”

“Transgender people have become an increasingly visible part of society. Therefore, we believe it is crucial to understand their economic behavior and to extend experimental economics research to all groups grouped under the LGBTQ+ flag in order to recognize the colorful society that we already belong to in our scientific research.”

“On the Robustness of Gender-Specific Differences in Economic Behavior” was published in Scientific Reports.

More information:
Helena Fornwagner et al, On the Robustness of Gender Differences in Economic Behavior, Scientific Reports (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-25141-1

Provided by the University of Exeter

Citation: Gender or sex are not as crucial in economic decisions as previously thought, study results (2022 December 15) retrieved December 15, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-12-gender-biological- sex-decisive-economic.html

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