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Female Empowerment and Male Backlash

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  • Eleonora Guarnieri
  • Helmut Rainer

Abstract

Do policies and institutions that promote women’s economic empowerment have a long-term impact on intimate partner violence? We address this question by exploiting a natural experiment of history in Cameroon. From the end of WWI until 1961, the western territories of today’s Cameroon were arbitrarily divided between France and the United Kingdom, whose colonial regimes opened up divergent economic opportunities for women in an otherwise culturally and geographically homogeneous setting. Women in British territories benefited from a universal education system and gained opportunities for paid employment. The French colonial practice in these domains centered around educating a small administrative elite and investing in the male employment-dominated infrastructure sector. Using a geographical regression discontinuity design, we show that women in former British territories are 36% more likely to be victims of domestic violence than those in former French territories. Among a broad set of possible channels of persistence, only one turns out statistically significant and quantitatively important: women in former British territories are 37% more likely to be in paid employment than their counterparts in former French areas. We demonstrate that the incidence of domestic violence in former British areas is not uniformly higher for reasons unrelated to this channel: the discontinuity for domestic violence is almost entirely explained by women who hold paid jobs and have partners who object spousal employment. These results are incompatible with household bargaining models that incorporate domestic violence but they are accommodated by theories of male backlash.

Suggested Citation

  • Eleonora Guarnieri & Helmut Rainer, 2018. "Female Empowerment and Male Backlash," CESifo Working Paper Series 7009, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Zahra Siddique, 2022. "Media-Reported Violence and Female Labor Supply," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70(4), pages 1337-1365.
    3. Alberto Alesina & Benedetta Brioschi & Eliana La Ferrara, 2021. "Violence Against Women: A Cross‐cultural Analysis for Africa," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 88(349), pages 70-104, January.
    4. Anders Kjelsrud & Kristin Vikan Sjurgard, 2022. "Public Work and Private Violence," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 58(9), pages 1791-1806, September.
    5. Alison Andrew & Sonya Krutikova & Gabriela Smarrelli & Hemlata Verma, 2022. "Gender norms, violence and adolescent girls' trajectories: evidence from a field experiment in India," Economics Series Working Papers 984, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    6. Black, Dan A. & Grogger, Jeffrey & Kirchmaier, Tom & Sanders, Koen, 2023. "Criminal charges, risk assessment and violent recidivism in cases of domestic abuse," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 121374, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Seema Jayachandran, 2021. "Social Norms as a Barrier to Women’s Employment in Developing Countries," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 69(3), pages 576-595, September.
    8. Harka, Elona & Nunziata, Luca & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2021. "The Alabaster Ceiling: The Gender Legacy of the Papal States," IZA Discussion Papers 14719, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Díaz, Juan-José & Saldarriaga, Victor, 2023. "A drop of love? Rainfall shocks and spousal abuse: Evidence from rural Peru," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C).
    10. Edith Aguirre, 2023. "Domestic violence and women’s earnings in Mexico/Violencia doméstica e ingresos laborales de las mujeres en México," Estudios Económicos, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Económicos, vol. 38(1), pages 143-165.
    11. Ranganathan, Meghna & Pichon, Marjorie & Hidrobo, Melissa & Tambet, Heleene & Sintayehu, Wastina & Tadesse, Seifu & Buller, Ana Maria, 2022. "Government of Ethiopia's public works and complementary programmes: A mixed-methods study on pathways to reduce intimate partner violence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 294(C).
    12. Padilla-Romo, María & Peluffo, Cecilia & Viollaz, Mariana, 2022. "Parents' Effective Time Endowment and Divorce: Evidence from Extended School Days," IZA Discussion Papers 15304, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Marie Christelle Mabeu & Roland Pongou, 2021. "The Interplay Between Colonial History and Postcolonial Institutions: Evidence from Cameroon," Working Papers 2111E Classification-D02,, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
    14. Zhang, Yinjunjie (Jacquelyn) & Breunig, Robert, 2021. "Gender Norms and Domestic Abuse: Evidence From Australia," IZA Discussion Papers 14225, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Alison Andrew & Sonya Krutikova & Gabriela Smarrelli & Hemlata Verma, 2022. "Gender norms, violence and adolescent girls’ trajectories: evidence from a field experiment in India," IFS Working Papers W22/41, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    16. Tur-Prats, Ana, 2021. "Unemployment and intimate partner violence: A Cultural approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 185(C), pages 27-49.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    colonization; female economic empowerment; intimate partner violence;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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