Women aren't as competitive-natured as men, and that's why they end up in lower-paying jobs, according to a new study.

Feminists have long claimed that women get paid less than men mostly because of discrimination. Others say most women choose to go into lower-paying professions, work fewer hours and have their careers interrupted more often by family concerns.

In any event, some combination of factors has produced a situation in which all women, on average, earn less than all men earn, on average. A new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that part of the pay gap — at least among MBA graduates — can be explained by women seeking out less competitive jobs.

"We find that, among MBA graduates from a prestigious business school, competitive individuals obtain higher earnings at graduation," researchers write in the working paper. "Importantly, differences in taste for competition account for a significant share of the gender gap in earnings."

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The paper was authored by Ernesto Reuben, with Columbia University, Paola Sapienza, with Northwestern University, and Luigi Zingales, with the University of Chicago.

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