This is the result of a study carried out by the Institute for the Study of Labor and the University of Bonn. The researchers had worked out a laboratory experiment involving a total of 119 men and 121 women. They were to multiply pairs of numbers together over a ten-minute period. They were able to choose beforehand how they wanted to be paid. Either they could opt for a fixed sum of seven euros, or they could choose to be paid just under 20 cents for each correct multiplication. Alternatively they could also take part in a kind of tournament, where the opponent was chosen at random. Whoever solved the most tasks won 20 euros, with the opponent getting nothing.
“In our experiment only 44% of all the women taking part chose the performance-related options, although many of them could have earned more if they had,” is how the Bonn economist Professor Armin Falk summarises the results. “By contrast 68% of the men chose this option.” The results correspond to the statistical data of the socio-economic panel, a survey which the German Institute of Economic Research carries out each year. According to this, 33% of all women work in the public sector, a field in which fixed though relatively low pay is the norm. In contrast, only 21% of men are employed in this field.
In the study Falk and a member of his team, Dr. Thomas Dohmen, wanted to investigate what effect the choice of a pay incentive scheme could have on the composition of the workforce. “We have also got our participants to do experiments which enable us to draw conclusions about specific traits of their character,” Dohmen explains. These include, for example, risk affinity, egoism and assessment of one's own abilities. “Men, for example, are more prepared to take risks,” is how Dohmen sums up the conclusions. “Our results show this quite clearly. These findings should at least partly explain why women tend to opt for fixed pay.”
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Bonn