Research

Working Papers

By how much do traditional gender norms in marriage constrain aggregate output? Married women are traditionally expected to stay home and take care of the household. This gender role reduces married women’s labor force participation, away from their comparative advantage. A low likelihood of working in the future also reduces women’s incentive to get educated. I develop a model featuring education, marriage, and labor supply choices to quantify the aggregate economic consequences of gender norms in marriage. I find that relative to single women, married women in 1940 U.S. faced a norms wedge that acted as a 44% tax on market wage. By 2010, the norms wedge had halved. Had gender norms remained at the level of 1940, married women of 2010 would have had an 18% lower labor force participation rate, 13% lower market earnings, and their total market and home output would have been lower by 7%. For the aggregate economy, total market and home output would have been 3.5% lower. I validate the model through a reduced form analysis, which uses county-level variation in World War 2 casualties that increased female labor force participation and consequently weakened traditional gender norms.


While gender quotas are often employed to fight entrenched customs that bar talented women from entering politics, quotas may prove ineffectual if they suffer from active resistance by the incumbent males. The South Korean municipal council elections provide us with a novel setting to study the response of the highly male-dominant political parties to gender quotas in unusually rich ways. Specifically, gender quotas were implemented in only one of the two election arms, so we are able to observe what happened in the unconstrained arm. We analyze the effect of the quota on how parties select their election candidates, by exploiting the discontinuity in the bite of the quota at certain cutoffs of council size. We find that municipalities stipulated to elect more females initially counter the quota by putting forth fewer female candidates in the unconstrained arm, but over time this pattern gradually overturns. The changing reaction to the quota stems from parties learning about the competency of females after having experienced a female councilor. This paper suggests that affirmative action policies can still be effective as long as they are not completely undone, even in settings where the target group consists a very small minority among incumbents.


Work in Progress

  • Group Composition and Group Decision-Making: Evidence from Municipal Council Meetings in South Korea (with Oriana Bandiera, Stephen Hansen, Andrea Prat, and Martina Zanella)

[Data collection in progress]

How does the proportion of females affect the group dynamic in a male-dominated setting? We study this question in the context of municipal council meetings in South Korea, exploiting the introduction of gender quotas in the elections for councilors. The legal requirement for councils to publish verbatim minutes of council meetings gives us the unique opportunity to observe in a systematic manner how individuals interact. Identity economics as well as a vast literature in sociology make varied predictions of male and female behavior in male-dominated settings. For example, men may hold the view of women as threats, or they may gradually become more accepting of female colleagues. Women may cope by taking on masculine attitudes and distancing themselves from female colleagues, or they may develop solidarity among themselves. We intend to analyze the minutes of the council meetings, collected by scraping the websites of all 226 municipal councils, to see how the increase in the share of female councilors affected female and male MP behavior. Measures of behavior include frequency and length of speech, proposal and endorsement of new bills, and contention against and support for other councilors. This study may also shed light on the exact mechanisms behind existing findings of gender quotas in political positions leading to female-friendly policies, by zooming in on the legislative process.


  • Does Bonus Pay Crowd Out Intrinsic Motivation? Evidence from the UK Health Sector (with Tim Besley and Maitreesh Ghatak)

[Confidential data obtained]

The reward structure in an organization affects how the motivation of its workers evolves. Bonus pay designed to encourage effort exertion by alleviating classical moral hazard concerns may backfire, if it encourages a firm culture geared towards financial rewards as opposed to the intrinsic value of the work. We intend to study the effect of bonus pay on workers in a setting where prosocial motivation is particularly important: the health sector. The identification strategy relies on the fact that the continuous development of the Pay for Performance scheme for the UK National Health Service (NHS) affected groups of hospitals and occupational categories at different periods. The level of intrinsic motivation of existing and new workers is measured by variables such as the number of unpaid hours of work, job satisfaction rates, and agreement with the values of the organization, asked in the NHS Staff Survey (2003-2018) that covers the universe of NHS hospitals. Confidentially identified data allows us to employ the identification strategy.