Ingvild Almås

Sources of income inequalities with specific focus on gender inequality

"Willingness to Compete: Family Matters" (with A. Cappelen, K. Salvanes, E. Sørensen and B. Tungodden), forthcoming, Management Science.

This paper studies the role of family background in explaining differences in the willingness to compete in a cognitive task. By combining data from a lab experiment conducted with a fairly representative sample of adolescents in Norway and high-quality register data on family background, we show that family background is fundamental in two important ways. First, boys from low socioeconomic status families are less willing to compete than boys from better-off families, even when controlling for confidence, performance, risk preferences, time preferences, social preferences, and psychological traits. Second, family background is crucial for understanding the large gender difference in the willingness to compete. Girls are much less willing to compete than boys among children from better-off families, whereas we do not find any gender difference in willingness to compete among children from low socioeconomic status families. Our data suggest that the main explanation of the role of family background is that the father’s socioeconomic status is strongly associated with boys’ willingness to compete. We do not find any association between the willingness to compete for boys or girls and the mother’s socioeconomic status or other family characteristic that may potentially shape competition preferences, including parental equality and sibling rivalry.

"Measuring and Changing Control: Women’s Empowerment and Targeted Transfers" (with A. Armand, O. Attanasio, P. Carneiro), NBER working paper series, 2015.

This paper studies how targeted cash transfers to women affect their empowerment. We use a novel identification strategy to measure women’s willingness to pay to receive cash transfers instead of their partner receiving it. We apply this among women living in poor households in urban Macedonia. We match experimental data with a unique policy intervention (CCT) in Macedonia offering poor households cash transfers conditional on having their children attending secondary school. The program randomized whether the transfer was offered to household heads or mothers at municipality level, providing us with an exogenous source of variation in (offered) transfers. We show that women who were offered the transfer reveal a lower willingness to pay, and we show that this is in line with theoretical predictions.

"What Explains the Gender Gap in College Track Dropout? Experimental and Administrative Evidence" (with A. Cappelen, K. Salvanes, E. Sørensen and B. Tungodden), American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, 106(5), 296-302, 2016.

We exploit a unique data set, combining rich experimental data with high-quality administrative data, to study dropout from the college track in Norway, and why boys are more likely to drop out. The paper provides three main findings. First, we show that family background and personal characteristics contribute to explain dropout. Second, we show that the gender difference in dropout rates appears both when the adolescents select into the college track and after they have started. Third, we show that different processes guide the choices of the boys and the girls of whether to drop out from the college track.