Oct 18, 2013

Women, Patience, and Economic Development

From a paper by Michal Bauer & Julie Chytilová. A draft is here
Researchers have observed that women in developing countries often make more development friendly choices than men. We implemented experimental tasks among a large and diverse sample of married individuals in rural India and found women to make on average more patient and more risk-averse choices than men. We find important heterogeneity in gender differences in patience: there is no difference for spouses with no children but patience levels diverge if there are small children in a family. The findings imply that conflicting spousal preferences are most likely in poor families with children.
From the conclusions
We found women to make more patient choices than men on average. Most interestingly, we found increasingly patient choices among women who had higher number of children below 18 years of age, with the highest level of patience being associated with three to four children. We observe important differences in this link, depending on the age of the children. Women’s patience is correlated only with children who are younger than 18 years old ― and hence those she has to look after ― but not with children that are already adults. We do not find a link between children and men’s patience. Thus, a higher number of children also predicts the significantly higher patience of women compared to men. The relationships hold also after controlling for education, wealth and other personal characteristics, village fixed effects, and are robust to alternative estimation techniques.
May be a reason why women are the main participants in ROSCAs and beneficiaries of micro-lending.  

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