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Law, Economics, and Culture: Theory of Mandated Benefits and Evidence from Maternity Leave Policies

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  • Yehonatan Givati
  • Ugo Troiano

Abstract

Why do some countries mandate a long maternity leave, while others mandate only a short one? We incorporate into a standard mandated-benefit model social tolerance of gender-based discrimination, showing that the optimal length of maternity leave depends on it. The less tolerant a society is of gender-based discrimination, the longer the maternity leave it will mandate. Relying on recent research in psychology and linguistics according to which patterns in languages offer a window into their speakers’ dispositions, we collected new data on the number of gender-differentiated personal pronouns across languages to capture societies’ attitudes toward gender-based discrimination. We first confirm, using within-country language variation, that our linguistic measure is correlated with attitudes toward gender-based discrimination. Then, using cross-country data on length of maternity leave, while controlling for other parameters, we find a strong correlation between our language-based measure of attitudes and the length of maternity leave.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/663632
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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/663632
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 55 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 339 - 364

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/663632

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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