“What is Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander? A Field Experiment on Gender, Language and Financial Market Participation”

by Cecilia Boggio, Flavia Coda Moscarola; CeRP WP N. 168/17

The gender gap in financial participation and decision-making has been extensively documented in the economic and sociological literature. We conduct a field experiment with elementary school children to go to the roots of this gender gap. We compare the effects of two different treatments (the language treatment and the MdR treatment) designed to boost the attention span of the participants on a basic financial task aiming at eliciting their time preferences. We find that the use of gender-specific conceptual frames (competitiveness vs. cooperation) in the description of the task: 1) improves girls’ understanding of it and is effective in increasing the number of coherent answers; 2) makes the MdR workshop on the utility of savings more effective in improving the consistency of the answers of girls; 3) increases the children’s level of patience. This evidence supports the idea that a more gender-specific conceptual frame –one women can identify more with– could play a role in narrowing the gender gap in financial market participation and decision-making.

Published April 2017