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On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough

Alberto Alesina, Paola Giuliano and Nathan Nunn

No 17098, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: This paper seeks to better understand the historical origins of current differences in norms and beliefs about the appropriate role of women in society. We test the hypothesis that traditional agricultural practices influenced the historical gender division of labor and the evolution and persistence of gender norms. We find that, consistent with existing hypotheses, the descendants of societies that traditionally practiced plough agriculture, today have lower rates of female participation in the workplace, in politics, and in entrepreneurial activities, as well as a greater prevalence of attitudes favoring gender inequality. We identify the causal impact of traditional plough use by exploiting variation in the historical geo-climatic suitability of the environment for growing crops that differentially benefited from the adoption of the plough. Our IV estimates, based on this variation, support the findings from OLS. To isolate the importance of cultural transmission as a mechanism, we examine female labor force participation of second-generation immigrants living within the US.

JEL-codes: D03 J16 N30 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ent, nep-evo, nep-his, nep-lab, nep-ltv and nep-pol
Note: CH DAE EFG LS POL
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (58)

Published as 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.

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Related works:
Journal Article: On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough (2013) Downloads
Working Paper: On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough (2013) Downloads
Working Paper: ON THE ORIGINS OF GENDER ROLES: WOMEN AND THE PLOUGH (2012) Downloads
Working Paper: On the origins of gender roles: women and the plough (2011) Downloads
Working Paper: On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough (2011) Downloads
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