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Marriage and Children
Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM (EST)
American Economic Association & Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession
Marriage Market and Labor Market Sorting
We build a novel equilibrium model in which households' labor supply choices form the link between sorting on the marriage and sorting on the labor market. We first show that the nature of home production - whether partners' hours are complements or substitutes - shape marriage market sorting, labor market sorting and labor supply choices in equilibrium. We then explore how sorting patterns in each market and their interaction contribute to the gender gap in wages, as well as income inequality between and within households. To this end, we estimate our model and find that spouses' home hours are strategic complements. We investigate the key drivers behind sorting and inequality based on primitives, where we assess the role of spousal complementarities in home production, women's relative productivity in home production, and women's relative productivity in the labor market. We find that the gender wage gap and within household income inequality would decrease if either gender productivity differences at home or in the labor market were reduced, but also if home production hours were even more complementary among partners. Finally, sorting on both markets has a significant quantitative effect on wage inequality: Labor market sorting cements the advantage of men in a world where women work less in the labor market and more at home. In turn, marriage market sorting generates more balanced labor market outcomes - in hours, sorting, and pay - across gender.
Institutional Reform, Information and De Facto Access to Women's Legal Rights: Evidence from Pakistan
The degree of freedom that women enjoy over key life choices such as, when and whom to marry and divorce are intrinsically valuable rights with important welfare consequences. Over the last half century, there has been substantial progress in legal protections for women's rights worldwide. However, women’s de jure rights over marriage and divorce are substantially more progressive than the de facto practice of the law. Existing literature on the impact of women’s legal rights has focused primarily on de jure legislative changes. There is more limited work on what determines de facto access to these rights. In 2015, the province of Punjab, Pakistan, passed a set of legal reforms imposing penalties on families as well as marriage registrars for violations of women’s rights in marriage, including rules on the completion of the marriage contract, a binding legal contract at the time of marriage that governs divorce and financial rights in marriage. Legally the informed consent of the bride and groom to these terms is the sole requirement for the marriage contract; however, the terms of the contract are often decided by the spouses' parents, with strong influence from the religious-legal official who conducts and registers the marriage, the marriage registrar. Yet until 2017 there was no education or training requirement to become a marriage registrar; and marriage registrars were unaware of legal protections for women's rights in marriage including the new reforms. For such reforms to be effective in practice, the parties to the marriage negotiation and contracting process must be informed about the law. We collaborated with the government to conduct a randomized evaluation of the first ever mandatory training of marriage registrars. This allows us to establish whether improving the information environment can make legal reforms more effective and strengthen institutions.
Born in the Family: Preferences for Boys and the Gender Gap in Math
We study the effect of preferences for boys on the performance in mathematics of girls, using evidence from two different data sources. In our first set of results, we identify families with a preference for boys by using fertility stopping rules in a large population of households whose children attend public schools in Florida. Girls growing up in a boy-biased family score on average 3 percentage points lower on math exams when compared to girls raised in other types of families. In our second set of results we find similar strong effects when we study the correlations between girls’ performance in mathematics and maternal gender role attitudes, using evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. We conclude that socialization at home can explain a non-trivial part of the observed gender disparities in mathematics performance and document that maternal gender attitudes correlate with those of their children, supporting the hypothesis that preferences transmitted through the family impact children behavior.
Toward Better Informed Decision-Making: The Impacts of a Mass Media Campaign on Women's Outcomes in Occupied Japan
Gender norms are shown to drive socioeconomic gender gaps as well as to have deep historical roots. However, far less understood are whether and how public policies can alter gender norms to address gender issues. In this study, I examine the impact of women's radio programs that the US-led occupying force aired in Japan (1945-1952) to dismantle the prewar patriarchal norms. Exploiting local variation in radio signal strength driven by soil conditions as an instrumental variable, I provide causal evidence that greater exposure to women's radio programs increased women's electoral turnout, which further translated into a greater vote share for female candidates. This positive effect mattered for women’s representation: had there not been women’s radio programs in place, the number of female winners would have been halved. Moreover, I show that greater exposure to women's radio programs contributed to a decline in fertility and therefore had an important implication for the nation’s demographic landscape. The declining fertility is due neither to an increase in women’s career aspiration nor to a decline in marriages. My results are not driven by a preexisting correlation between radio signal strength and women's behavior before the US occupation. Overall my findings suggest that, using mass media, public policy can alter gender norms to address gender issues.
Alessandra Maria Voena
University of Chicago
J1 - Demographic Economics