Gender Differences in Performance and Risk-taking among Children, Teenagers, and College Students: Evidence from Jeopardy!

  • 1 Department of Economics, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Western Australia, Australia
  • 2 Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) Schaumburg-Lippe-Straße 5–9, 53113, Bonn, Germany
  • 3 CESifo Poschingerstraße 5, 81679, München, Germany
  • 4 Department of Economics, Old Dominion University, 2048 Constant Hall, Norfolk, USA
Michael JetterORCID iD:
  • Department of Economics, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Western Australia, 6009, Australia
  • Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) Schaumburg-Lippe-Straße 5–9, 53113, Bonn, Germany
  • CESifo Poschingerstraße 5, 81679, München, Germany
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and Jay K. WalkerORCID iD:


Studying Jeopardy! contestants in the US, we explore whether and when gender differences in performance in competitive settings and risk-taking emerge with age and by opponents’ gender. We identify no gender differences in winning episodes, responding, or responding correctly to clues. Male teenagers (but not children) wager substantially more than female teenagers, leading to the emergence of the gender gap, equivalent to a 7.3 percentage point difference. This gap persists for college students. Finally, male teenagers and college students wager substantially less when competing against females, whereas the gender of opponents does not influence the behavior of young female contestants.

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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy (BEJEAP) is an international forum for scholarship that employs microeconomics to analyze issues in business, consumer behavior and public policy. Topics include the interaction of firms, the functioning of markets, the effects of domestic and international policy and the design of organizations and institutions.