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Social Norms and Gender Equality: A Descriptive Analysis for South Asia

Maurizio Bussolo (), Jessy Amarachi Ezebuihe, Ana Maria Munoz Boudet, Stavros Poupakis (), Tasmia Rahman and Nayantara Sarma

No 10142, Policy Research Working Paper Series from The World Bank

Abstract: Despite decades of economic growth, gender inequality in South Asia remains remarkably high.Although not the only one, social norms are a crucial driver of various gender outcomes, including differential economicparticipation. Using repeated cross-sectional data from nationally representative surveys, this paper explores thelong term trends of gender outcomes and social norms (proxied by attitudes towards gender roles) in South Asia.The results corroborate the evidence that there has been almost no progress in gender equality in South Asia over thepast half-century. There has been little progress on female labor force participation, marriage age, agency, intimatepartner violence, and preference for sons, with education being the only exception. The lack of progress is apparentamong all socioeconomic groups, including women who live in urban areas, are educated, and have higher incomes. Genderattitudes also remain unchanged, and in some cases, have become more conservative and have a negative relationshipwith gender outcomes. Better measurements of social normsand better understanding of how their constraining role can be loosened may be critical for achieving gender equality inthe region.

Date: 2022-08-16
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gen and nep-soc
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