Social Norms, Female Labor Supply and the Family
Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM
- Chair: Justin Wolfers, University of Michigan
Economic Incentives, Home Production and Gender Norms
AbstractGender identity norms have attracted increasing attention as possible drivers of persistent gender gaps, although the extent to which they effectively restrict the behavior of couples is still debated. The baseline allocation of home production between spouses may not be fully informative of gender norms, as it typically results from the combination of both couples' preferences/norms and economic incentives. A direct test for the role of gender norms requires to measure how the time allocation of spouses is affected when the relative wage changes. We argue that the elasticity of substitution between spousal inputs in home production is related to the strength of gender norms governing gender roles, and asymmetric reactions to relative wage shocks reveal which type of norm (Traditional or Untraditional) would be binding. By combining administrative information on home production in Sweden with the introduction in 2007 of a EITC that altered the relative post-tax wages of spouses, we find suggestive evidence of the relevance of both Traditional and Untraditional norms in different groups of the Swedish population.
Misperceived Social Norms: Female Labor Force Participation in Saudi Arabia
AbstractWe study perceptions of gender norms in the labor market investigating whether they matter for labor supply. We provide incentivized evidence (both from an experimental sample in Riyadh and from a national sample) that the vast majority of married men in Saudi Arabia privately support female labor force participation (FLFP) outside of home from a normative perspective, while they substantially underestimate the level of support for FLFP by other men - even men from their same social setting, such as their neighbors. We then show that randomly correcting these beliefs about others increases married men's willingness to let their wives join the labor force (as measured by their costly signup for a mobile job-matching application for their wives). Finally, we find that this decision maps into real outcomes: four months after the main intervention, the wives of men in our original sample whose beliefs about acceptability of FLFP were corrected are more likely to have applied and interviewed for a job outside of home. Together, our evidence indicates a potentially important source of labor market frictions, where job search is underprovided due to misperceived social norms.
Social Norms, Labor Market Opportunities, and the Marriage Gap for Skilled Women
AbstractIn most of the developed world, skilled women marry at a lower rate than unskilled women. We document heterogeneity across countries in how the marriage gap for skilled women has evolved over time. As labor market opportunities for women have improved, the marriage gap has been growing in some countries but shrinking in others. We discuss the comparative statics of a theoretical model in which the (negative) social attitudes toward working women might contribute to the lower marriage rate of skilled women, and might also induce a non-monotonic relationship between their labor market prospects and their marriage outcomes. The model delivers predictions about how the marriage gap for skilled women should react to changes in their labor market opportunities across economies with more or less conservative attitudes toward working women. We verify the key predictions of this model in a panel of 26 developed countries, as well as in a panel of US states.
University of Chicago
University of California-Los Angeles
University of Michigan
- J1 - Demographic Economics
- J2 - Demand and Supply of Labor