Evidence of gender differences in cooperation in social dilemmas is inconclusive. This paper experimentally elicits unconditional contributions, a contribution vector (cooperative preferences), and beliefs about the level of others’ contributions in variants of the public goods game. We show that existing inconclusive results can be understood when controlling for beliefs and underlying cooperative preferences. Robustness checks of our original data from Germany, based on data from six countries around the world, confirm our main empirical results: Women are significantly more often classified as conditionally cooperative than men, while men are more likely to be free riders. Beliefs play an important role in shaping unconditional contributions, supporting the view that these are more malleable or sensitive to subtle cues in women than in men.
- Public goods
- Conditional cooperation