Working Papers

"Is women’s competitiveness expressed vicariously through their husband’s income?" (with Gahye (Rosalyn) Jeon).

Prior research on the contribution of competitiveness on the gender income gap has focused on the effect of individual competitiveness. We investigate the influence of heterosexual individuals’ own and cohabiting partner’s competitiveness on their own and partner’s income using a recently validated self-reported measure of competitiveness incorporated in 2017 into a Dutch representative survey. The present (2017) and future (after 2017) income levels of single and cohabiting men and single women are positively associated with their own competitiveness. Single men’s are not. Consistent with competitive women selecting high income men, women’s competitiveness is positively associated with their male partner’s income, but the men’s competitiveness is not significantly associated with their female partner’s income. However, controlling for 2017 income to control for unobserved heterogeneity across individuals and couples, only single men’s competitiveness increases their future income. Single women’s and cohabiting men’s and women’s do not. Remarkably, only men’s female partner’s competitiveness, not their own, causally increases the cohabiting men’s future income. Neither cohabiting women’s own nor their male partner’s competitiveness increase the women’s income. In short, our evidence suggests that whereas men’s competitiveness increases their income only as singles, women’s competitiveness never increases their income. However, they do match with higher potential income men as spouses and motivate these men to earn a higher income, increasing the income of their household.

“Marrying for height” (with Pierre-Andre Chiappori, Yu Yang, Junsen Zhang).

Height is associated with many aspects of socioeconomic inequality, especially for males. However, unlike the associated traits, height is readily observable, and thus, may be the basis for the initial sorting among couples. We use novel experimental and empirical data to identify search and matching patterns for mate height and income. We recorded clicks on profiles with randomly assigned height and income information on a major online dating website. Medium and tall men click more on taller female profiles, while short men do not. Women of all heights click more on taller male profiles. Surprisingly, short women reveal in their search rates the strongest aversion to the short men that they end up marrying. Confirming this aversion, household survey data indicate that short wives have the highest willingness to pay (WTP) in terms of the husband’s income they sacrifice for an incremental increase in husband height. For short wives, a one cm increase in husband height is equivalent to a 15 percent increase in husband’s income, which is more than twice that of the husband of the medium wife. Only short women’s marriage probability decreases with sex ratios absolutely and relative to medium and tall women, whose probability increases. The WTP for height of only short early mothers increases with the local sex ratio. We argue that short women are crowded out of the marriage market by medium and tall women in their endeavor to overcome height and associated socioeconomic inequality for their children.

The Gender Difference in Mixed Strategy Nash Equilibrium Play” (with Gahye (Rosalyn) Jeon).

The mixed strategy Nash equilibrium (MNE) is a well-established concept in theory, but empirical and experimental support has been hampered by the need for a large sample size for across-subject choices and serial correlation for within-subject choices. We overcome these difficulties in testing for MNE play by exploiting a previously developed comparative statics effect for a common value pairwise all-pay auction which, strikingly, predicts that bids increase on perceived opponent’s risk tolerance, but not on the bidder’s own. Men bid as predicted, but women’s bids respond neither to their own nor to the opponent’s risk tolerance. Additionally, while the significance of men’s response to their beliefs about their opponent’s risk tolerance increases with the absence of mistakes on a pre-experiment quiz, women’s lack of response is unaffected by their quiz performance. These results are consistent with a prior finding of a gender difference in MNE play with a large sample of professional tennis players. We contribute by showing that MNE play can be tested with an ordinary sample of subjects in a laboratory setting. We show a gender difference in a factor that is likely crucial in most competitive situations: perceptions of the opponent’s risk tolerance.