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On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough

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  • Alberto Alesina
  • Paola Giuliano
  • Nathan Nunn

Abstract

The study examines the historical origins of existing cross-cultural differences in beliefs and values regarding the appropriate role of women in society. We test the hypothesis that traditional agricultural practices influenced the historical gender division of labor and the evolution of gender norms. We find that, consistent with existing hypotheses, the descendants of societies that traditionally practiced plough agriculture today have less equal gender norms, measured using reported gender-role attitudes and female participation in the workplace, politics, and entrepreneurial activities. Our results hold looking across countries, across districts within countries, and across ethnicities within districts. To test for the importance of cultural persistence, we examine the children of immigrants living in Europe and the United States. We find that even among these individuals, all born and raised in the same country, those with a heritage of traditional plough use exhibit less equal beliefs about gender roles today. JEL Codes: D03, J16, N30. Copyright 2013, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 128 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 469-530

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Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:128:y:2013:i:2:p:469-530

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  1. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1996. "Comparative Advantage, Information and the Allocation of Workers to Tasks: Evidence from an Agricultural Labour Market," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(3), pages 347-74, July.
  2. Alesina, Alberto & Algan, Yann & Cahuc, Pierre & Giuliano, Paola, 2010. "Family Values and the Regulation of Labor," IZA Discussion Papers 4747, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. David Clingingsmith & Asim Ijaz Khwaja & Michael Kremer, 2009. "Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam's Global Gathering," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1133-1170, August.
  4. Mark M. Pitt & Mark R. Rosenzweig & Mohammad Nazmul Hassan, 2012. "Human Capital Investment and the Gender Division of Labor in a Brawn-Based Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3531-60, December.
  5. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2011. "The Origins of Technolinguistic Diversity," Economics Working Papers 0095, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  6. King, Jeffrey & Liebman, Jeffrey & Katz, Lawrence & Sanbonmatsu, Lisa, 2004. "Moving to Opportunity and Tranquility: Neighborhood Effects on Adult Economic Self-Sufficiency and Health from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," Working Paper Series rwp04-035, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  7. Nathan Nunn & Diego Puga, 2007. "Ruggedness: The blessing of bad geography in Africa," Working Papers 2007-09, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales, revised 01 May 2010.
  8. Nicole M Fortin, 2005. "Gender Role Attitudes and the Labour-market Outcomes of Women across OECD Countries," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 416-438, Autumn.
  9. Rainald Borck, 2011. "Adieu Rabenmutter - The Effect of Culture on Fertility, Female Labour Supply, the Gender Wage Gap and Childcare," CESifo Working Paper Series 3337, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Stefania Albanesi & Claudia Olivetti, 2007. "Gender Roles and Technological Progress," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2007-029, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  11. Lawrence Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & B. Jeffrey Liebman & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2004. "Moving to Opportunity and Tranquility: Neighborhood Effects on Adult Economic Self-Sufficiency and Health From a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," Working Papers 860, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  1. On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough
    by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2011-06-07 15:01:22
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