Female Protectionism Redux
By Bryan Caplan
Here’s the latest paper on the puzzle of female protectionism – “Why are Women More Protectionist than Men?” by Eugene Beaulieu and Michael Napier. (For earlier work, see here and here). And here’s Beaulieu and Napier’s extremely frustrating closing paragraph:
Although there currently appears to be no evidence as to why this gender gap exists, a couple of theories are still outstanding. As aforementioned, women may simply be more sensitive to the framing of survey questions, causing them to answer more towards the bias, as in the question of interest in this study. This issue, however, cannot be addressed with the ISSP data sets. Also, are males or females more likely to lose their jobs due to increased trade liberalization? …Lastly, although it is not likely that risk aversion will explain any of this gender gap; women are in general more risk averse. [sic?] However, risk aversion as a possible explanation for the gender gap cannot be estimated empirically with the ISSP data sets as they do not contain a proxy for risk.
What’s so frustrating? As far as I can tell, Beaulieu and Napier don’t even consider the possibility that women simply know less about economics than men, even though there is overwhelming evidence that this is so. As I originally showed in my “What Makes People Think Like Economists?” (2001, Journal of Law and Economics), being male has roughly as much effect on economic beliefs as 1.7 steps on a 6-point educational scale. Why do economists have so much trouble taking the obvious explanation for female protectionism seriously?