Gender differences in outcomes are often explained by gender differences in competitiveness. Using evidence from the outdoor World Championships and Olympics 1,500 meter event, this paper investigates whether gender differences exist in the behavior of runners. Results indicate that there are some gender differences in the competition. Where the gender differences exist, the evidence indicates that there is a difference in the relationship between ability and performance and between peer effects and performance. These results are suggestive of males running more strategically.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
A significant body of empirical literature examines peer effects in a variety of settings. The discussion here is limited to peer effects in sports or gender differences in peer effects. For more, see Ammermueller and Pischke  and Angrist and Lang  on peer effects in schooling; Mas and Moretti  and Bandiera, Barankay, and Rasul  on peer effects in jobs. See Angrist and Pischke  for an econometric discussion of peer effects.
See http://www.iaaf.org for more information about the association.
Not excluding runner i’s time from the average would always provide a coefficient estimate of 1.
Heats within a round are run with 10 minutes between starting times of each heat. As regressions below are run separately by round, it is expected that weather and crowds will not vary much within this short time period. As a result, the year dummy variables should do a good job of capturing a wide variety of factors that differ across heats within a round.
There were only two rounds in 2005 and 2008 for females. In these 2 years, we consider females to only have preliminary round and a final round.
The strategy used to investigate gender differences in different rounds of these probit models is the same as described for the previous models of runners’ times. As these estimated models are probit models, the appropriate test of a joint hypothesis of no gender differences is a χ2 test.
Both males and females have participated in the 1,500 meter event at the World Championships since its inception in 1983.
We would like to thank an anonymous referee for presenting this possible explanation.
Ammermueller, Andreas, and Jörn-Steffen Pischke . 2009. Peer Effects in European Primary Schools: Evidence from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. Journal of Labor Economics, 27 (3): 315–348.
Angrist, Joshua D., and Kevin Lang . 2004. Does School Integration Generate Peer Effects? Evidence from Boston’s Metco Program. American Economic Review, 94 (5): 1613–1634.
Angrist, Joshua D., and Jörn-Steffen Pischke . 2009. Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist’s Companion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Bandiera, Oriana, Iwan Barankay, and Imran Rasul . 2009. Social Incentives in the Workplace. Review of Economic Studies, 77 (4): 417–458.
Borghans, Lex, Angela Lee Duckworth, James J. Heckman, and Bas ter Weel . 2008. The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits. Journal of Human Resources, 43 (4): 972–1059.
Brown, Jennifer . 2011. Quitters Never Win: The (Adverse) Incentive Effects of Competing with Superstars. Journal of Political Economy, 119 (5): 982–1013.
Croson, Rachel, and Uri Gneezy . 2009. Gender Differences in Preferences. Journal of Economic Literature, 47 (2): 448–474.
Cunha, Flavio, and James Heckman . 2007. The Technology of Skill Formation. American Economic Review, 97 (2): 31–47.
Ehrenberg, Ronald, and Michael Bognanno . 1990a. Do Tournaments have Incentive Effects? Journal of Political Economy, 98 (6): 1307–1324.
Ehrenberg, Ronald, and Michael Bognanno . 1990b. The Incentive Effects of Tournaments Revisited: Evidence from the European PGA Tour. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 43 (3): 74–88.
Frick, Bernd . 2011a. Gender Differences in Competitiveness: Empirical Evidence from Professional Distance Racing. Labour Economics, 18 (3): 389–398.
Frick, Bernd . 2011b. Gender Differences in Competitive Orientations: Empirical Evidence from Ultramarathon Running. Journal of Sports Economics, 12 (3): 317–340.
Frick, Bernd, and Joachim Prinz . 2007. Pay and Performance in Professional Road Racing: The Case of City Marathons. International Journal of Sport Finance, 2 (1): 25–35.
Gilsdorf, Keith F., and Vasant A. Sukhatme . 2008a. Testing Rosen’s Sequential Elimination Tournament Model Incentives and Player Performance in Professional Tennis. Journal of Sports Economics, 9 (3): 287–303.
Gilsdorf, Keith F., and Vasant A. Sukhatme . 2008b. Tournament Incentives and Match Outcomes in Women’s Professional Tennis. Applied Economics, 40 (18): 2405–2412.
Gneezy, Uri, and Aldo Rustichini . 2004. Gender and Competition at a Young Age. American Economic Review, 94 (2): 377–381.
Gould, Stephen Jay . 1986. Entropic Homogeneity Isn’t Why No One Hits .400 Anymore. Discover, 7 (8): 60–66.
Guryan, Jonathan, Kory Kroft, and Matthew J. Notowidigdo . 2009. Peer Effects in the Workplace: Evidence from Random Groupings in Professional Golf Tournaments. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1 (4): 34–68.
Hill, Brian . forthcoming. The Heat is On: Tournament Structure, Peer Effects, and Performance. Journal of Sports Economics. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1177/1527002512461156.
International Association of Athletics Federations. 2011. Competition Rules 2012–2013, http://www.iaaf.org/about-iaaf/publications, accessed March 2014.
Lavy, Victor, Olmo Silva, and Felix Weinhardt . 2012. The Good, the Bad, and the Average: Evidence on Ability Peer Effects in Schools. Journal of Labor Economics, 30 (2): 367–414.
Lazear, Edward, and Sherwin Rosen . 1981. Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts. Journal of Political Economy, 89 (5): 841–864.
Lynch, James G., and Jeffrey S. Zax . 2000. The Rewards to Running: Prize Structure and Performance in Professional Road Racing. Journal of Sports Economics, 1 (4): 323–340.
Maloney, Michael, and Robert McCormick . 2000. The Response of Workers to Wages in Tournaments: Evidence from Foot Races. Journal of Sports Economics, 1 (2): 99–123.
Mas, Alexandre, and Enrico Moretti . 2009. Peers at Work. American Economic Review, 99 (1): 112–45.
Niederle, Muriel, and Lise Vesterlund . 2007. Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much? The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 122 (3): 1067–1101.
Niederle, Muriel, and Lise Vesterlund . 2011. Gender and Competition. Annual Review of Economics, 3 (1): 601–630.
Orszag, Michael . 1994. A New Look at Incentive Effects and Golf Tournaments. Economic Letters, 46 (1): 77–88.
Segal, Carmit . 2012. Working When No One is Watching: Motivation, Test Scores, and Economic Success. Management Science, 58 (8): 1438–1457.
Szymanski, Stefan . 2003. The Economic Design of Sporting Contests. Journal of Economic Literature, 41 (4): 1137–1187.
Treber, Jaret, Rachel Levy, and Victor A. Matheson . 2013. Gender Differences in Competitive Balance in Intercollegiate Basketball, in The Handbook on the Economics of Women in Sports, edited by Eva Marikova Leeds, and Michael Leeds. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 251–268.
About this article
Cite this article
Emerson, J., Hill, B. Gender Differences in Competition: Running Performance in 1,500 Meter Tournaments. Eastern Econ J 40, 499–517 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1057/eej.2014.28
- peer effects
- gender differences