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Mothers, Friends and Gender Identity

Author

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  • Olivetti, Claudia

    () (Boston College)

  • Patacchini, Eleonora

    () (Cornell University)

  • Zenou, Yves

    () (Monash University)

Abstract

This paper explores a novel mechanism of gender identity formation. Specifically, we explore how the work behavior of a teenager's own mother, as well as that of her friends' mothers, affect her work decisions in adulthood. The first mechanism is commonly included in economic models. The second, which in social psychology is also emphasized as an important factor in gender identity formation, has so far been overlooked. Accordingly, our key theoretical innovation is how the utility function is modeled. It is assumed that an adult woman's work decisions are influenced by her own mother's choices as well as her friends' mothers' choices when she was a teenager, and the interaction between the two. The empirical salience of this behavioral model is tested using a network model specification together with the longitudinal structure of the AddHealth data set. We find that both intergenerational channels positively affect a woman's work hours in adulthood, but the cross effect is negative, indicating the existence of cultural substitutability. That is, the mother's role model effect is larger the more distant she is (in terms of working hours) from the friends' mothers.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivetti, Claudia & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2013. "Mothers, Friends and Gender Identity," IZA Discussion Papers 7704, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7704
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Plug, Erik & van der Klaauw, Bas & Ziegler, Lennart, 2015. "Do Parental Networks Pay Off? Linking Children's Labor-Market Outcomes to their Parents' Friends," IZA Discussion Papers 9074, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Jisoo Hwang, 2016. "Housewife, “gold miss,” and equal: the evolution of educated women’s role in Asia and the U.S," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(2), pages 529-570, April.
    3. Jisoo Hwang, 2016. "Housewife, “gold miss,” and equal: the evolution of educated women’s role in Asia and the U.S," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(2), pages 529-570, April.
    4. Vecci, Joseph & Zelinsky, Tomas, 2016. "Social Identity and Role Models," Working Papers in Economics 672, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    intergenerational transmission; gender identity; labor force participation; social networks;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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