Grosjean, Pauline & Rose Khattar: It’s raining men

Grosjean, Pauline & Rose Khattar

It’s Raining Men! Hallelujah? (June 3, 2014). UNSW Australian School of Business Research Paper No. 2014-29

The paper links history, specifically male-female balance resulting from early convict days, with modern day attitudes in one field (attitudes to female work). The question could be asked whether the same links might be drawn to other attitudes.

We document the implications of missing women in the short and long run. We exploit a natural historical experiment, which sent large numbers of male convicts and far fewer female convicts to Australia in the 18th and 19th century. In areas with higher gender imbalance, women historically married more, worked less, and were less likely to occupy high-rank occupations. Today, people living in those areas have more conservative attitudes towards women working and women are still less likely to have high-ranking occupations. We document the role of vertical cultural transmission and of homogamy [here meaning marriage within the same ethnicity or culture] in the marriage market in sustaining cultural persistence.

Conservative gender norms may have been beneficial historically, but are no longer necessarily so. Historical gender imbalance is associated with an aggregate income loss estimated at $800 per year, per person. Our results are robust to a wide array of geographic, historical and present-day controls, including migration and state fixed effects, and to instrumenting the overall sex ratio by the sex ratio among convicts. (abstract; full pdf is available)

The paper is discussed by Peter Martin. A graphic depicting women in federal Cabinet.

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