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Modern gender roles and agricultural history: the Neolithic inheritance

Author

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  • Casper Hansen

    ()

  • Peter Jensen

    ()

  • Christian Skovsgaard

    ()

Abstract

This research proposes the hypothesis that societies with long histories of agriculture have less equality in gender roles as a consequence of more patriarchal values and beliefs regarding the proper role of women in society. We test this hypothesis in a world sample of countries, in a sample of European regions, as well as among immigrants and children of immigrants living in the US. This evidence reveals a significant negative relationship between years of agriculture and female labor force participation rates, as well as other measures of equality in contemporary gender roles. This finding is robust to the inclusion of an extensive set of possible confounders, including historical plough-use and the length of the growing season. We argue that two mechanisms can explain the result: (1) societies with longer agricultural histories had a higher level of technological advancement which in the Malthusian Epoch translated into higher fertility and a diminished role for women outside the home; (2) the transition to cereal agriculture led to a division of labor in which women spend more time on processing cereals rather than working in the field. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Casper Hansen & Peter Jensen & Christian Skovsgaard, 2015. "Modern gender roles and agricultural history: the Neolithic inheritance," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 365-404, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:20:y:2015:i:4:p:365-404
    DOI: 10.1007/s10887-015-9119-y
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jeborg:v:151:y:2018:i:c:p:219-233 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Xue, Melanie Meng, 2018. "High-Value Work and the Rise of Women: The Cotton Revolution and Gender Equality in China," MPRA Paper 91100, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    8. Ana Tur-Prats, 2015. "Family types and intimate-partner violence: A historical perspective," Economics Working Papers 1486, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic development; Culture; Gender roles; J70; N50; O11; O17;

    JEL classification:

    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General
    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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