Gender and cooperative preferences

Nadja C. Furtner, Martin Kocher, Peter Martinsson, Dominik Matzat, Conny Wollbrant

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


Evidence of gender differences in cooperation in social dilemmas is inconclusive. This paper experimentally elicits unconditional contributions, a contribution vector (cooperative preferences), and beliefs about the level of others’ contributions in variants of the public goods game. We show that existing inconclusive results can be understood when controlling for beliefs and underlying cooperative preferences. Robustness checks of our original data from Germany, based on data from six countries around the world, confirm our main empirical results: Women are significantly more often classified as conditionally cooperative than men, while men are more likely to be free riders. Beliefs play an important role in shaping unconditional contributions, supporting the view that these are more malleable or sensitive to subtle cues in women than in men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 502045 Behavioural economics
  • 502057 Experimental economics


  • HBE
  • Cat2
  • Conditional cooperation
  • Experiment
  • Gender
  • Public goods

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