Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Jean Kimmel

Second Advisor

Dr. Chair Wei-Chiao Huang

Third Advisor

Dr. Kevin M. Hollenbeck


Risk aversion gender differences, behavioral economics, credit constraints, discrimination, household finances


The disadvantages that women face in the financial market hamper their social and economic well-being. These disadvantages may arise from their own risk preferences or from financial market. The aim of this dissertation is to examine different aspects of the disadvantages that women face in the U.S Financial Market. In that light, I present three essays that analyze gender differences in risk preferences and credit market constraints. I use the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) data for all my empirical analysis.

In the first essay, I examine whether women exhibit greater financial risk aversion than men using attitudinal and behavioral specifications of risk aversion. I find that while women display greater attitudinal risk aversion, gender difference in behavioral risk aversion depends upon individuals’ marital status and their role in household finances. Single women exhibit greater behavioral risk aversion compared to single men. However, gender difference does not exist when we compare behavioral risk aversions of married women and men in charge of household finances.

In the second essay, I perform a non-linear decomposition to identify and quantify socio-economic factors that contribute to gender differences in self-reported financial risk tolerance, a proxy for attitudinal risk aversion. I find that gender disparities in wealth, income, education and employment status explain a significant portion of the observed gender differences in financial risk tolerance. However, social norms on risk and gender are most important factor, as they explain approximately 60% of the observed gender differences.

In the third essay, I examine if gender discrimination exists in the U.S. credit market. Specifically, I examine if women face greater credit constraints and pay higher costs of credit compared to men. I find evidence that women face greater credit constraint and pay higher costs of credit. Even after controlling for a wide array of demographic, household and credit risk characteristics, empirical results confirm that credit applications of women are more likely to be rejected, and first mortgage rates are comparatively higher for women.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access