IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/24736.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Misperceived Social Norms: Female Labor Force Participation in Saudi Arabia

Author

Listed:
  • Leonardo Bursztyn
  • Alessandra L. González
  • David Yanagizawa-Drott

Abstract

Through the custom of guardianship, husbands typically have the final word on their wives’ labor supply decisions in Saudi Arabia, a country with very low female labor force participation (FLFP). We provide incentivized evidence (both from an experimental sample in Riyadh and from a national sample) that the vast majority of young married men in Saudi Arabia privately support FLFP outside of home from a normative perspective, while they substantially underestimate the level of support for FLFP by other similar men – even men from their same social setting, such as their neighbors. We then show that randomly correcting these beliefs about others increases married men’s willingness to let their wives join the labor force (as measured by their costly sign-up for a job-matching service for their wives). Finally, we find that this decision maps onto real outcomes: four months after the main intervention, the wives of men in our original sample whose beliefs about acceptability of FLFP were corrected are more likely to have applied and interviewed for a job outside of home. Together, our evidence indicates a potentially important source of labor market frictions, where job search is underprovided due to misperceived social norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Leonardo Bursztyn & Alessandra L. González & David Yanagizawa-Drott, 2018. "Misperceived Social Norms: Female Labor Force Participation in Saudi Arabia," NBER Working Papers 24736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24736
    Note: DEV LS POL
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w24736.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. John A. List & Azeem M. Shaikh & Yang Xu, 2019. "Multiple hypothesis testing in experimental economics," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(4), pages 773-793, December.
    2. Stefano DellaVigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier, 2012. "Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 127(1), pages 1-56.
    3. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2008. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 414-427, August.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano & Nathan Nunn, 2013. "On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 128(2), pages 469-530.
    5. Paola Giuliano, 2007. "Living Arrangements in Western Europe: Does Cultural Origin Matter?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(5), pages 927-952, September.
    6. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    7. S. Nageeb Ali & Roland Bénabou, 2020. "Image versus Information: Changing Societal Norms and Optimal Privacy," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 116-164, August.
    8. Katherine Baldiga Coffman, 2014. "Evidence on Self-Stereotyping and the Contribution of Ideas," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 129(4), pages 1625-1660.
    9. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2011. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants, And Behavioral Consequences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 522-550, June.
    10. Claudia Goldin, 2014. "A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(4), pages 1091-1119, April.
    11. Pedro Bordalo & Katherine Coffman & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2019. "Beliefs about Gender," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(3), pages 739-773, March.
    12. Leonardo Bursztyn & Georgy Egorov & Stefano Fiorin, 2017. "From Extreme to Mainstream: How Social Norms Unravel," NBER Working Papers 23415, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Men, Women and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, in: Charles R. Plott & Vernon L. Smith (ed.), Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 113, pages 1061-1073, Elsevier.
    14. Seema Jayachandran, 2015. "The Roots of Gender Inequality in Developing Countries," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 63-88, August.
    15. Stefano Dellavigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier & Gautam Rao, 2017. "Voting to Tell Others," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 84(1), pages 143-181.
    16. Leonardo Bursztyn & Robert Jensen, 2015. "How Does Peer Pressure Affect Educational Investments?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 130(3), pages 1329-1367.
    17. repec:oup:restud:v:84:y::i:1:p:143-181. is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Ricardo Perez-Truglia & Guillermo Cruces, 2017. "Partisan Interactions: Evidence from a Field Experiment in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1208-1243.
    19. Katherine Baldiga, 2014. "Gender Differences in Willingness to Guess," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(2), pages 434-448, February.
    20. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2004. "Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 119(4), pages 1249-1299.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Leonardo Bursztyn & Thomas Fujiwara & Amanda Pallais, 2017. "'Acting Wife': Marriage Market Incentives and Labor Market Investments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(11), pages 3288-3319, November.
    2. Angerer, Silvia & Glätzle-Rützler, Daniela & Lergetporer, Philipp & Rittmannsberger, Thomas, 2024. "Beliefs about social norms and gender-based polarization of COVID-19 vaccination readiness," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 163(C).
    3. Da Ke, 2021. "Who Wears the Pants? Gender Identity Norms and Intrahousehold Financial Decision‐Making," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 76(3), pages 1389-1425, June.
    4. Sania Ashraf & Cristina Bicchieri & Upasak Das. Alex Shpenev, 2023. "Valuing Open Defecation Free Surroundings: Experimental Evidence from a Norm-Based Intervention in India," Papers 2312.16205, arXiv.org.
    5. Henry, Emeric & Sonntag, Jan, 2019. "Measuring image concern," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 19-39.
    6. Görges, Luise, 2021. "Of housewives and feminists: Gender norms and intra-household division of labour," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    7. Luise Görges, 2021. "Of housewives and feminists: Gender norms and intra-household division of labour," Working Paper Series in Economics 400, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
    8. Francesconi, Marco & Nicoletti, Cheti & Cavapozzi, Danilo, 2021. "The Impact of Gender Role Norms on Mothers’ Labor Supply," CEPR Discussion Papers 15957, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Delfino, Alexia, 2021. "Breaking Gender Barriers: Experimental Evidence on Men in Pink-Collar Jobs," IZA Discussion Papers 14083, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Cavapozzi, Danilo & Francesconi, Marco & Nicoletti, Cheti, 2021. "The impact of gender role norms on mothers’ labor supply," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 186(C), pages 113-134.
    11. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/1bq1k745nc834o1mcjvbqevsoq is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Friedman-Sokuler, Naomi & Senik, Claudia, 2020. "From Pink-Collar to Lab Coat: Cultural Persistence and Diffusion of Socialist Gender Norms," IZA Discussion Papers 13385, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Claudia Olivetti & Barbara Petrongolo, 2016. "The Evolution of Gender Gaps in Industrialized Countries," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 405-434, October.
    14. Haaland, Venke Furre & Rege, Mari & Telle, Kjetil & Votruba, Mark, 2018. "The intergenerational transfer of the employment gender gap," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 132-146.
    15. Siwan Anderson, 2022. "Unbundling female empowerment," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 55(4), pages 1671-1701, November.
    16. Englmaier, Florian & Grimm, Stefan & Grothe, Dominik & Schindler, David & Schudy, Simeon, 2021. "The Efficacy of Tournaments for Non-Routine Team Tasks," CEPR Discussion Papers 16360, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Catherine Eckel & Lata Gangadharan & Philip J. Grossman & Nina Xue, 2021. "The gender leadership gap: insights from experiments," Chapters, in: Ananish Chaudhuri (ed.), A Research Agenda for Experimental Economics, chapter 7, pages 137-162, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    18. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2010. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and Socialization," Post-Print halshs-00754788, HAL.
    19. Silva Goncalves, Juliana & van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2020. "Subjective Judgment and Gender Bias in Advice: Evidence from the Laboratory," Working Papers 2020:27, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    20. Drupp, Moritz A. & Khadjavi, Menusch & Riekhof, Marie-Catherine & Voss, Rudi, 2020. "Professional identity and the gender gap in risk-taking. Evidence from field experiments with scientists," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 418-432.
    21. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24736. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.