Cultural Practices and Women's Lives
Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
- Chair: Nancy Qian, Northwestern University
Does Maternal Education Decrease Female Genital Cutting?
AbstractFemale genital cutting (FGC) is a human violation of women's physical integrity and a harmful custom with potentially negative long-term health consequences. More than 200 million girls and women are affected by FGC worldwide. Education is often depicted as an effective instrument for abandoning the practice, but strikingly, causal evidence is scant. In this paper we study the causal effect of maternal education on the probability that daughters undergo FGC. We focus on Nigeria, a country where 20 million girls and women are estimated to be circumcised, representing 10% of the global total. To establish causation, we consider the introduction of the 1976 Universal Primary Education (UPE) program as a natural experiment. Using data from the 1999 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, we document a small negative association between mothers' education and the probability that their daughters undergo FGC. We confirm that the education reform significantly increases years of education for women in the exposed cohorts, but we find no significant impact of the reform on the probability that their daughters are cut. As a potential mechanism for the absence of a significant causal effect, we examine whether UPE affects women's attitudes towards FGC. If education does not reduce a mother's support for FGC, it might as well not change her decision to have her daughter cut. Indeed we find no evidence that mothers' education reduces their support for FGC.
Immigration Enforcement, Police Trust and Domestic Violence
AbstractDomestic violence is a serious under-reported crime in the United States, especially among undocumented women given their reluctance to seek assistance for fear of deportation. While the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows battered immigrants to petition for legal status without relying on abusive U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouses, we find that intensified interior immigration enforcement has curbed the VAWA self-petition rate. In contrast, sanctuary policies limiting the cooperation of law enforcement with Immigration Customs Enforcement partially counteract that impact. Understanding survivors’ responses to immigration policy is crucial given growing police mistrust and vulnerability to crime among immigrants.
The Economic Motives for Foot-Binding
AbstractWhat are the origins of gender-biased social norms? As a painful custom that persisted in historical China, foot-binding targeted girls whose feet were reshaped during early childhood. This paper presents a unified theory to explain the stylized facts of foot-binding, and investigates its historical dynamics driven by a gender-asymmetric mobility system in historical China (the Civil Examination System). The exam system marked the transition from hereditary aristocracy to meritocracy, generated a more heterogeneous composition of men compared to that of women, and triggered intensive competition among women in the marriage market. As a competition package carrying both aesthetic and moral values, foot-binding was gradually adopted by women as their social ladder, first in the upper class and later by the lower class. Since foot-binding impedes non-sedentary labor, but not sedentary labor, however, its adoption in the lower class exhibited distinctive regional variation: it was highly prevalent in regions where women specialized in household handicraft, and was less popular in regions where women specialized in intensive farming, e.g. rice cultivation. Empirically, we conduct analysis using county-level Republican archives on foot-binding to test the cross-sectional predictions of our theory, and major findings that are robust and consistent with key theoretical predictions.
University of Chicago
University of Illinois
University of Connecticut
University of Toronto
- J1 - Demographic Economics
- J7 - Labor Discrimination