Journal of Historical Political Economy > Vol 2 > Issue 4

Gender Gaps in Frontier Entrepreneurship? Evidence from 1901 Oklahoma Land Lottery Winners

Jason Poulos, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, USA,
Suggested Citation
Jason Poulos (2023), "Gender Gaps in Frontier Entrepreneurship? Evidence from 1901 Oklahoma Land Lottery Winners", Journal of Historical Political Economy: Vol. 2: No. 4, pp 611-634.

Publication Date: 06 Feb 2023
© 2023 J. Poulos
Causal inferenceentrepreneurshipgenderliquidity constraintsnatural experiments


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In this article:
Historical Background and Related Literature 
Data and Record Linkage 
Causal Estimation 
Empirical Results 


The paper investigates gender differences in entrepreneurship by exploiting a large-scale land lottery in Oklahoma at the turn of the twentieth century. Lottery winners claimed land in the order in which their names were drawn, so the draw number is an approximate rank ordering of lottery wealth. This mechanism allows for the estimation of a dose--response function, which relates each draw number to the expected outcome under each draw. I estimate dose–response functions on a linked dataset of lottery winners and land patent records, and find the probability of purchasing land from the government to be decreasing as a function of lottery wealth, which is evidence for the presence of liquidity constraints. I find female winners were more effective in leveraging lottery wealth to purchase additional land, as evidenced by significantly higher median dose–responses compared to those of male winners. For a sample of winners linked to the 1910 Census, I find that male winners have higher median dose–responses compared to female winners in terms of farm or home ownership. These results suggest that liquidity constraints may have been more binding for female entrepreneurs in the market economy.



Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 2, Issue 4 Special Issue: The Development of the American West: Articles Overview
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.