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Last Published February 12, 2020 01:44 PM July 12, 2020 10:42 PM
Intervention (Hidden) We estimate the effect of having a female compared to male president in an economics simulation. The simulation is part of an introductory economics course at a large research-based university. About 1,560 students who take the course are randomly assigned to “countries” of 15 students within which they interact online for one term of 13 weeks. During the simulation, the students (including the president) make a number of economic decisions including what to produce and what to consume. These decisions affect their level of happiness - a score in the simulation that is visible to the students and is equivalent to utility. This happiness score is directly linked to student grades in the course. In total, we expect to have 104 countries. We plan to divide these countries into 4 equally-sized treatment groups: • In treatment group 1, countries have a female president and the students in the country can see the gender of the president. • In treatment group 2, countries have a female president and the students in the country cannot see the gender of the president. • In treatment group 3, countries have a male president and the students in the country can see the gender of the president. • In treatment group 4, countries have a male president and the students in the country cannot see the gender of the president. The presidents are randomly selected students of the relevant gender. For example, in treatment groups 1 and 2, presidents are randomly selected women among all women in a given country. Presidents can, for example, invest in public goods, set taxes and subsidies, print money and engage in corruption. The goal of this project is to explore how countries with female presidents perform compared to countries with male presidents. We are additionally investigating whether knowing the gender of the presidents affects a country’s performance. We estimate the effect of having a female compared to male president in an economics simulation. The simulation is part of an introductory economics course at a large research-based university. About 1,560 students who take the course are randomly assigned to “countries” of 15 students within which they interact online for one term of 13 weeks. During the simulation, the students (including the president) make a number of economic decisions including what to produce and what to consume. These decisions affect their level of happiness - a score in the simulation that is visible to the students and is equivalent to utility. This happiness score is directly linked to student grades in the course. In total, we expect to have 104 countries. We plan to divide these countries into 4 equally-sized treatment groups: • In treatment group 1, countries have a female president and the students in the country can see the gender of the president. • In treatment group 2, countries have a female president and the students in the country cannot see the gender of the president. • In treatment group 3, countries have a male president and the students in the country can see the gender of the president. • In treatment group 4, countries have a male president and the students in the country cannot see the gender of the president. The presidents are randomly selected students of the relevant gender. For example, in treatment groups 1 and 2, presidents are randomly selected women among all women in a given country. Presidents can, for example, invest in public goods, set taxes and subsidies, print money and engage in corruption. The goal of this project is to explore how countries with female presidents perform compared to countries with male presidents. We are additionally investigating whether knowing the gender of the presidents affects a country’s performance. Update: data from additional survey questions (July 13, 2020) We will run an additional survey with students from the same university. With data from this survey, we want to: 1) test whether the gender gap in preferences for redistributive policies shrinks when we make costs of these policies explicit. 2) measure the gender gap in preference for redistribution in the university context. 3) find out to what extent students expect different effects of having a male vs female head of government (e.g. a president or prime minister).
Secondary Outcomes (End Points) 1. Differences in average happiness and inequality of happiness (main outcomes) between countries in which the presidents’ gender is visible compared to countries in which it isn’t. 2. Gender differences in preferences for redistribution among presidents. 3. Gender differences in preference for redistribution among all students. 4. Differences in average GDP per capita between countries that are led by female compared to male presidents. 5. Differences in inequality of GDP between countries that are led by female compared to male president. 6. Gender differences in other aspects of countries’ economies (e.g. investments in public goods, taxes) 7. Differences in students’ course satisfaction and evaluation of the performance of the president between students led by female compared to male presidents. 8. Differences in students’ behavior in economic games (trust, dictator, ultimatum game) between students who are in simulations with female compared to male presidents. 1. Differences in average happiness and inequality of happiness (main outcomes) between countries in which the presidents’ gender is visible compared to countries in which it isn’t. 2. Gender differences in preferences for redistribution among presidents. 3. Gender differences in preference for redistribution among all students. 4. Differences in average GDP per capita between countries that are led by female compared to male presidents. 5. Differences in inequality of GDP between countries that are led by female compared to male president. 6. Gender differences in other aspects of countries’ economies (e.g. investments in public goods, taxes) 7. Differences in students’ course satisfaction and evaluation of the performance of the president between students led by female compared to male presidents. 8. Differences in students’ behavior in economic games (trust, dictator, ultimatum game) between students who are in simulations with female compared to male presidents. Update July 13, 2020 9. Change in gender gap in preferences for redistributive policies when costs of these policies are made explicit. 10. Gender gap in preference for redistributive policies targeting university students. 11. Average expectations about effect of having a female compared to a male head of government.
Secondary Outcomes (Explanation) Explanation for secondary outcomes 1: We will compare the average happiness (main outcome 1) between countries with female presidents in which presidents gender was visible (treatment 1) and countries with female presidents in which presidents gender was not visible (treatment 2). The difference between these two treatments allows us to explore to what extent a country’s performance depends on the students knowing that the president is female. We’ll do the same for male presidents (comparing treatments 3 and 4) and for the Gini coefficient of happiness (main outcome 2) for presidents of both genders. Explanation for secondary outcomes 2-3: Before starting the simulations, all students are asked to fill in a questionnaire. In this questionnaire, students can state how much they agree with 5 statements that measure attitudes towards redistribution. Students possible answers range from 1 “strongly disagree” to 5 “strongly agree”. These are the 5 statements: 1. It is the responsibility of the government to reduce the differences in income between people with high incomes and those with low incomes. 2. The government should take more responsibility to ensure that everyone is provided for. 3. The government should do everything to improve the standard of living of all poor citizens. 4. The government should do only those things necessary to provide the most basic government functions. 5. The government should take active steps in every area it can to try and improve the lives of its citizens. To get our measure of attitudes towards redistribution, we will reverse the score for question 4 so that higher values indicate more support for redistribution. Our final measure of preferences of redistribution will then be the average of all 5 scores. Explanation for secondary outcomes 4-6: From the simulation, we can generate several measures that describe the economic activities of each economy. For example, we can measure GDP per capita, tax rates, investments in public goods and inflation. We will explore gender differences in these measures without having any specific hypothesis a priori how these might be affected by having a female president. Explanation for secondary outcomes 7: The measure of course satisfaction and satisfaction with the president are taken from a survey that students fill out towards the end of the course. Explanation for secondary outcomes 8: We will play the ultimatum game, trust game, and dictator game with all students in the course. Some of these games will be played using monetary incentives. The other games will be played using simulation money as incentives. We will compare the behaviour in these economic mini-games between students who are in simulations with female presidents compared to male presidents. We have no a priori hypothesis how having a female president will affect these outcomes. Explanation for secondary outcomes 1: We will compare the average happiness (main outcome 1) between countries with female presidents in which presidents gender was visible (treatment 1) and countries with female presidents in which presidents gender was not visible (treatment 2). The difference between these two treatments allows us to explore to what extent a country’s performance depends on the students knowing that the president is female. We’ll do the same for male presidents (comparing treatments 3 and 4) and for the Gini coefficient of happiness (main outcome 2) for presidents of both genders. Explanation for secondary outcomes 2-3: Before starting the simulations, all students are asked to fill in a questionnaire. In this questionnaire, students can state how much they agree with 5 statements that measure attitudes towards redistribution. Students possible answers range from 1 “strongly disagree” to 5 “strongly agree”. These are the 5 statements: 1. It is the responsibility of the government to reduce the differences in income between people with high incomes and those with low incomes. 2. The government should take more responsibility to ensure that everyone is provided for. 3. The government should do everything to improve the standard of living of all poor citizens. 4. The government should do only those things necessary to provide the most basic government functions. 5. The government should take active steps in every area it can to try and improve the lives of its citizens. To get our measure of attitudes towards redistribution, we will reverse the score for question 4 so that higher values indicate more support for redistribution. Our final measure of preferences of redistribution will then be the average of all 5 scores. Explanation for secondary outcomes 4-6: From the simulation, we can generate several measures that describe the economic activities of each economy. For example, we can measure GDP per capita, tax rates, investments in public goods and inflation. We will explore gender differences in these measures without having any specific hypothesis a priori how these might be affected by having a female president. Explanation for secondary outcomes 7: The measure of course satisfaction and satisfaction with the president are taken from a survey that students fill out towards the end of the course. Explanation for secondary outcomes 8: We will play the ultimatum game, trust game, and dictator game with all students in the course. Some of these games will be played using monetary incentives. The other games will be played using simulation money as incentives. We will compare the behaviour in these economic mini-games between students who are in simulations with female presidents compared to male presidents. We have no a priori hypothesis how having a female president will affect these outcomes. Update July 13, 2020. For exact wording of questions used for secondary outcomes 9-11, see Appendix A (additional survey questions). 9. We will ask students to fill in a survey in which they will be randomly assigned one of two versions of the same question. Version 1 will ask them about them about redistributive policies. Version 2 additionally makes the cost of these policies explicit. Example (version 1) To what extent do you agree that the government should improve the standard of living of all poor citizens? Example (version 2) To what extent do you agree that the government should increase taxes on highly educated workers to improve the standard of living of all poor citizens? 10. We include questions in the survey about policies in which other students are affected by redistributive policies. 11. We included questions about the beliefs about the causal effects of having a female head of government (compared to a male head of government) on 1) a country’s economic performance 2) a countries’ level of economic inequality 3) happiness on citizens.
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