Why Can’t Alison Sell her Drill? Evidence from eBay

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In this project we explore why women sellers receive lower prices than men sellers when selling the exact same products, and why for some products gender price gaps are larger than others. To answer these questions, we exploit the variation in the gender price gap across products (found in an earlier study using ebay auction data) together with new experimental data on the perceptions people have about traits of products and product owners. We show that people hold consistent beliefs about the gender and characteristics of actual and prototypical owners of products. Second, we show that these cultural beliefs both about actual and about prototypical owners result in penalties for sellers selling products that are gender a-typical. Third, we demonstrate that when uncertain about their willingness to pay for a product or about its market price, buyers rely more on the cultural beliefs about owners.

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