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The Role of Historical Resource Scarcity in Modern Gender Inequality




We propose that historical resource scarcity played a role in the evolution of gender norms inimical to women, cultures that persists to this day. This is a plausible thesis for three reasons. First, male dominance in some species of non-human primate may have been shaped by their resource environments. Second, the prehistoric human skeletal record suggests scarcity led to decline in girls’ share of nutrition in parts of the world. Third, poverty is observed to contribute to gender bias in intra-household resource allocations in less developed countries. The proposition that historical habitual scarcity may have engendered cultures of gender inequality is supported by our finding that nations’ historical resource endowments, measured by the availability of arable land, are negatively related to their present levels of gender inequality as gauged by, for example, the UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index. It is supported as well in analyses at the sub-national level, which discover there are fewer missing women in districts of India better endowed with rainfall and cultivable land, and less bigotry in regard to the rights and abilities of women in sub-national regions of the world whose ancestral lands are better suited to agriculture. JEL Codes: D03, J16, N30

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  • Sudipta Sarangi & Chandan Jha & Gautam Hazarika, 2015. "The Role of Historical Resource Scarcity in Modern Gender Inequality," Departmental Working Papers 2015-06, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:lsu:lsuwpp:2015-06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Esther Duflo, 2012. "Women Empowerment and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-1079, December.
    2. Andrei Shleifer & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Rafael La Porta, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 285-332, June.
    3. Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano & Nathan Nunn, 2013. "On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(2), pages 469-530.
    4. Eliana Carranza, 2014. "Soil Endowments, Female Labor Force Participation, and the Demographic Deficit of Women in India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 197-225, October.
    5. Bourguignon, Francois & Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1992. "Collective models of household behavior : An introduction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 355-364, April.
    6. Elaina Rose, 1999. "Consumption Smoothing and Excess Female Mortality in Rural India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 41-49, February.
    7. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    8. Siwan Anderson, 2011. "Caste as an Impediment to Trade," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 239-263, January.
    9. 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.
    10. Stephan Klasen & Claudia Wink, 2003. ""Missing Women": Revisiting The Debate," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 263-299.
    11. Behrman, Jere R, 1988. "Intrahousehold Allocation of Nutrients in Rural India: Are Boys Favored? Do Parents Exhibit Inequality Aversion?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(1), pages 32-54, March.
    12. repec:hrv:faseco:33077826 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Barua, Rashmi & Goel, Prarthna & Sane, Renuka, 2017. "The Effect of Age-Specific Sex Ratios on Crime: Instrumental Variable Estimates from India," Working Papers 17/214, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative

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