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Conflicting Identities and Social Pressure - Effects on the long-run evolution of female labor supply

Listed author(s):
  • Mannberg, Andréa


    (Department of Economics, Umeå University)

  • Sjögren, Tomas


    (Department of Economics, Umeå University)

Over the last half-century female employment rates have increased significantly in many countries. This change has partly been attributed to a change in gender norms. The purpose of this paper is to present a dynamic model within which the evolution of female labor supply can be analyzed. Drawing on psychological literature, we let individuals define themselves in terms of different social identities, each of which prescribes a certain type of behavior. These prescriptions may imply conflicting incentives which provide agents with a motive to continuously revise the importance they attach to a given identity. Applying this approach within the context of a dynamic model of labor supply, we are able to make some novel predictions about what may cause labor supply to change over time. Our results suggest that the fear of becoming an outsider in society may have prevented a complete transition of women from housewives to breadwinners. In addition, we show that the discrepancy between personal and social norms may have interesting implications for labor supply: an increase in the hours of work prescribed by a working norm need not necessarily lead to more hours of work. Finally, our analysis shows that not recognizing that the weights attached to different social identities are endogenous may imply that the long-run effects on labor supply of a higher wage may be underestimated.

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Paper provided by Umeå University, Department of Economics in its series Umeå Economic Studies with number 805.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 30 Apr 2010
Handle: RePEc:hhs:umnees:0805
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Department of Economics, Umeå University, S-901 87 Umeå, Sweden

Phone: 090 - 786 61 42
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