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Gender inequality and economic development: fertility, education and norms

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  • Kleven, Henrik
  • Landais, Camille

Abstract

We document the evolution of gender inequality in labour market outcomes—earnings, labour supply and wage rates—over the path of economic development, and present evidence on the potential reasons for this evolution. To this end, we have created a micro database that compiles 248 surveys from 53 countries between 1967 and 2014, covering a wide range of per capita income levels. There is large convergence in the earnings of men and women over the path of development, driven by female labour force participation and wage rates. We argue that the single most important factor behind this convergence is demographic transition: the effects of children on gender gaps (‘child penalties’) are large at both low and high levels of development, but fertility declines drastically over the growth process and thus reduces the aggregate implications of children. We also document gender convergence in educational attainment and consider its effects on earnings inequality, arguing that these are significant but less dramatic than the effects of fertility. Finally, we document striking changes in the values or norms surrounding the role of women with children, implying that such changes could serve as a reinforcing mechanism for gender convergence.

Suggested Citation

  • Kleven, Henrik & Landais, Camille, 2017. "Gender inequality and economic development: fertility, education and norms," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 72388, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:72388
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/72388/
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    Cited by:

    1. Boschini, Anne & Gunnarsson, Kristin & Roine, Jesper, 2017. "Women in Top Incomes – Evidence from Sweden 1974-2013," Working Paper Series 5/2017, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    2. Kleven, Henrik & Landais, Camille & Søgaard, Jakob Egholt, 2020. "Does Biology Drive Child Penalties? Evidence from Biological and Adoptive Families," CEPR Discussion Papers 14704, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Barigozzi, Francesca & Cremer, Helmuth & Roeder, Kerstin, 2020. "Having it all, for all: Child-care subsidies and income distribution reconciled," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 188-211.
    4. Evelyn Nwamaka Ogbeide-Osaretin & Bright Orhewere, 2020. "Population Growth, Gender Inequality and Economic Development in Nigeria," Izvestiya, Varna University of Economics, issue 1, pages 47-64.
    5. Barigozzi, Francesca & Cremer, Helmuth & Roeder, Kerstin, 2018. "Women's career choices, social norms and child care policies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 162-173.
    6. Barigozzi, Francesca & Cremer, Helmuth & Monfardini, Chiara, 2019. "The Gender Gap in Informal Child Care: Theory and Some Evidence from Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 12403, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Maria Knoth Humlum & Anne Brink Nandrup & Nina Smith, 2019. "Closing or reproducing the gender gap? Parental transmission, social norms and education choice," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(2), pages 455-500, April.
    8. Chu, Yu-Wei Luke & Cuffe, Harold E. & Doan, Nguyen, 2020. "Motherhood Employment Penalty and Gender Wage Gap Across Countries: 1990–2010," MPRA Paper 99866, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Roman Bobilev & Anne Boschini & Jesper Roine, 2020. "Women in the Top of the Income Distribution: What Can We Learn From LIS-Data?," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 6(1), pages 63-107, March.
    10. Pierre-Richard Agénor, 2018. "A Theory of Social Norms, Women's Time Allocation, and Gender Inequality in the Process of Development," Centre for Growth and Business Cycle Research Discussion Paper Series 237, Economics, The Univeristy of Manchester.
    11. Henrik Kleven & Camille Landais & Jakob Egholt Søgaard, 2019. "Children and Gender Inequality: Evidence from Denmark," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 181-209, October.
    12. Laura Cabeza-García & Esther B. Del Brio & Mery Luz Oscanoa-Victorio, 2018. "Gender Factors and Inclusive Economic Growth: The Silent Revolution," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(1), pages 1-14, January.
    13. Boschini, Anne & Gunnarsson, Kristin & Roine, Jesper, 2020. "Women in top incomes – Evidence from Sweden 1971–2017," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 181(C).

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    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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