Who Wears the Pants? Gender Identity Norms and Intra-Household Financial Decision Making

Last registered on April 17, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Who Wears the Pants? Gender Identity Norms and Intra-Household Financial Decision Making
Initial registration date
April 16, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
April 17, 2020, 12:57 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

University of South Carolina

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The objective of this RTC is to gain a better understanding of the impact of gender identity norms on intra-household financial decision making in a controlled environment. Going beyond what would be possible in a typical observational study, the experimental methodology allows causal identification of any gender effects. Specifically, in a laboratory setting, I am able to exogenously increase the salience of gender identity to subjects. Meanwhile, I can also exogenously allocate the decision power between spouses. These experimental features are almost impossible to achieve in the real-world setting.

Specifically, this RTC enables me to test two specific channels through which gender identity may impact intra-household financial decision making. One hypothesis is that women are themselves less likely to contribute their ideas due to the traditional gender norms at the information contribution stage of intra-household financial decision making. The other is that women's influence in downplayed by their husband at the information aggregation stage.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Ke, Da. 2020. "Who Wears the Pants? Gender Identity Norms and Intra-Household Financial Decision Making." AEA RCT Registry. April 17. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5631-1.0
Experimental Details


Salience of gender identity for male and female subjects
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Decision to participate in the employee stock purchase plan
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
I recruit subjects on Amazon's Mechanical Turk (mTurk), an online platform that enables researchers to carry out survey experiments. At the start of the survey, I ask three screening questions to restrict my sample to married individuals aged 24-64 who are U.S. residents.

In the first part of the survey, subjects are introduced to an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP), which is a particular form of stock market participation. Specifically, they read three frequently asked questions on what ESPP is, how it works, and whether there are any restrictions on sales of company stocks. Meanwhile, they are presented with the hypothetical company's stock performance in the past 12 months in a price chart. They are then asked whether they plan to enroll in the ESPP.

In the second part of the survey, all subjects are randomly assigned to a writing task in which they read a text and then write a short essay of 5-10 sentences. Subjects in the primed condition are presented with a text on agentic and communal attributes, two concepts in the social psychology literature. Male (female) subjects are then instructed to recall a situation when they behaved in line with "agentic" ("communal'") in the presence of their wife (husband). As they write a short essay describing the situation, their thoughts and feelings, subjects are being primed with gender identity. In contrast, subjects in the control condition are presented with a gender-neutral text on the default American lifestyle. They are then instructed to write an essay describing a time when they actively resisted such a lifestyle.

In the final part of the survey, subjects are assigned to different arms of the experiment depending on how they answered the ESPP question in the first part of the survey. In particular, subjects who chose to participate in the ESPP are put in a scenario where their spouse is faced with the same decision. Due to unwarranted concerns, the spouse, as an eligible employee, is not inclined to enroll in the ESPP and the subject is entitled to make a final call on this decision. Therefore, I am able to test whether gender identity affects an individual's willingness to contribute ideas to the spouse. On the other hand, subjects who did not choose to enroll in the ESPP are given another scenario where their spouse provides the correct reasoning as to why the subject should take this arbitrage opportunity. I can therefore test whether gender identity affects an individual's openness to constructive advice from the spouse.

All subjects receive $1 following the completion of the survey. They have a 20 percent chance of earning a bonus of $2 if their completed survey is ranked above the median (i.e., among the top 50 percent of participants). I remind subjects of the bonus system several times in the survey and advise them to read the material carefully. To keep my priming technique effective, I also instruct them to write creatively and specify the reasons for their choices.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is performed by a random generating process embedded in the survey platform used to administer the intervention (Qualtrics).
Randomization Unit
The randomization unit is the individual
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
2,000 priming, 2,000 control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
The University of South Carolina Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
December 20, 2019, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
December 20, 2019, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
1,900 priming and 2,061 control
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials