Experimental Economics

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 412–432 | Cite as

Cancelling out early age gender differences in competition: an analysis of policy interventions

  • Matthias Sutter
  • Daniela Glätzle-Rützler
  • Loukas Balafoutas
  • Simon Czermak
Original Paper


We study the willingness to compete of 588 children and teenagers aged ten to seventeen. We replicate the gender difference in tournament entry choices usually found in the literature for adults. We then show that policy interventions like quotas and preferential treatment help to close down the gender gap without leading to losses in efficiency, during or after a tournament. Given that differences in competitive behavior are prevalent from an early age, the application of interventions to promote females in competitions may be desirable already at early ages to promote equal chances for women on labor markets later on.


Tournaments Gender gap Affirmative action Experiment Children 

JEL Classification

C91 D03 D04 



We thank Gary Charness, Uri Gneezy, Bill Harbaugh, Steffen Huck, Kai Konrad, Charles Noussair, Pedro Rey-Biel, Rupert Sausgruber, two anonymous referees, and seminar participants at the Economic Science Association Meeting in Kuala Lumpur and the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance in Munich for helpful comments and suggestions. Financial support through the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science program “Sparkling Science” (Grant SPA/02-99—Project: Gender and competition) and through the Austrian Science Fund (Project P22772-G11) is gratefully acknowledged. We thank Thomas Plankensteiner from the Tyrolean State Board of Education and headmasters Gerlinde Christandl, Georg Fritz, Max Gnigler and Hermann Lergetporer for making this study possible.

Supplementary material

10683_2015_9447_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Sutter
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniela Glätzle-Rützler
    • 2
  • Loukas Balafoutas
    • 2
  • Simon Czermak
    • 3
  1. 1.University of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.University of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  3. 3.Management Center InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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