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Social norms and female labor participation in Brazil


  • Karen Codazzi
  • Valéria Pero
  • André Albuquerque Sant'Anna


Over the last half‐century, the role of women in society has changed substantially. However, the gender income gap and the difference in labor force participation persist. Other authors introduced the concept of identity from sociology and social psychology at the economic analysis and, based on this, we search less traditional factors for understanding this persistence. Extending analysis of others, we analyze the impact of gender social norms, focusing on the prescription that “a man should earn more than his wife” on social and economic results. Based on the Censuses for 1991, 2000, and 2010 we observed that for only 7 percent of married couples does the wife earn more than her husband. We found evidence that the wives with greater probability of earning more than their husbands are less likely to participate in the labor force. Once she does participate in the labor force, she has a higher probability of earning less than her potential income, working fewer hours, and having an informal job.

Suggested Citation

  • Karen Codazzi & Valéria Pero & André Albuquerque Sant'Anna, 2018. "Social norms and female labor participation in Brazil," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(4), pages 1513-1535, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:rdevec:v:22:y:2018:i:4:p:1513-1535
    DOI: 10.1111/rode.12515

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    Cited by:

    1. Maéva Doumbia & Marion Goussé, 2021. "Gender identity and relative income within households: Evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 54(4), pages 1667-1683, November.
    2. Kauany de Souza & Fabiana Rocha & Pedro Forquesato, 2023. "The male breadwinner norm in Brazil," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 43(4), pages 1759-1770.
    3. Estefanía Galván, 2021. "Gender identity and quality of employment," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 21-14, Instituto de Economía - IECON.
    4. Estefanía Galván & Cecilia García-Peñalosa, 2021. "Interactions amongst gender norms: Evidence from US couples," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 21-15, Instituto de Economía - IECON.
    5. Sanae Tashiro & Chu-Ping Lo, 2020. "When Social Norms Influence the Employment of Women: The Case of Japan," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 46(3), pages 460-482, June.
    6. Daniel Kuehnle & Michael Oberfichtner & Kerstin Ostermann, 2021. "Revisiting gender identity and relative income within households: A cautionary tale on the potential pitfalls of density estimators," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(7), pages 1065-1073, November.
    7. Estefanía Galván, 2022. "Gender Identity and Quality of Employment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 89(354), pages 409-436, April.

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