Marriage markets in developing countries

Here is a new working paper of mine, jointly written with Shatanjaya Dasgupta, that reviews the literature on marriage markets in developing countries. It will appear as a book chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Women and the Economy, edited by Susan L. Averett, Laura M. Argys and Saul D. Hoffman, Oxford University Press. 

The Handbook seems to be quite promising; here are a few other chapters that I have come across:


Russia decriminalizes domestic violence


Members of Pussy Riot, a punk rock band from Russia (Photo source: Wikipedia)

Yes, it is crazy! On Tuesday this week, Putin signed a law according to which, provided “no bones are broken and the incident doesn’t occur more than once a year, (spousal and child) beatings will now carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 days, or simply a fine. Prior to the signing of the amendment, such attacks were considered battery and the perpetrator would have faced up to two years behind bars.”

This bill was supported by more than 85% of Duma’s legislators. “A member of the Russian Duma, Vitaly Milonov, explained, “I don’t think that we should violate the rights of family and sometimes a man and a woman, wife and husband, have a conflict … Sometimes in this conflict they use, I don’t know, a frying pan, uncooked spaghetti, and so on. Frankly speaking what we call home violence is not home violence — it’s sort of a new picture of family relations created by liberal media.”

More here and here.






Gender differences in the propensity to negotiate are often used to explain the gender wage gap, popularizing the push for women to “lean-in.” We use a laboratory experiment to examine the effect of leaning-in. Despite men and women achieving similar and positive returns when they must negotiate, we find that women avoid negotiations more often than men. While this suggests that women would benefit from leaning-in, a direct test of the counterfactual proves otherwise. Women appear to positively select into negotiations and to know when to ask. By contrast, we find no significant evidence of a positive selection for men.

We conduct a laboratory experiment on the determinants of beliefs about own and others’ ability across different domains. A preliminary look at the data points to two distinct forces: miscalibration in estimating performance depending on the difficulty of tasks and gender stereotypes. We develop a theoretical model that separates these forces and apply it to analyze a large laboratory dataset in which participants estimate their own and a partner’s performance on questions across six subjects: arts and literature, emotion recognition, business, verbal reasoning, mathematics, and sports. We find that participants greatly overestimate not only their own ability but also that of others, suggesting that miscalibration is a substantial, first order factor in stated beliefs. Women are better calibrated than men, providing more accurate estimates of ability both for themselves and for others. Gender stereotypes also have strong predictive power for beliefs, particularly for men’s beliefs about themselves and others’ beliefs about the ability of men. Our findings help interpret evidence on gender gaps in self-confidence.



– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

Muriel Niederle is a Professor of Economics at Stanford University. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a Research Associate of the NBER. Muriel is an Associate Editor of the Journal of European Economic Association, Quantitative Economics, and AEJ: Microeconomics. Her research concentrates on behavioral and experimental economics, with emphasis on gender and market design related topics. Muriel’s work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Journal of Political Economy, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

I am particularly fond of Muriel’s experimental work on gender differences in competitive environments. Along with various co-authors, she finds that:

(1) As the competitiveness of the environment increases, men’s performance increases significantly, but not women’s.

(2) “This effect is stronger when women have to compete against men than in single-sex competitive environments: this suggests that women may be able to perform in competitive environments per se.”

(3) “Women shy away from competition and men embrace it.”

(4) Among secondary school students in the Netherlands, “although boys and girls display similar levels of academic ability, boys choose substantially more prestigious academic tracks, where more prestigious tracks are more math- and science-intensive…Boys are also substantially more competitive than girls…Competitiveness is strongly positively correlated with choosing more prestigious academic tracks even conditional on academic ability…The gender difference in competitiveness accounts for a substantial portion (about 20%) of the gender difference in track choice.”

For more information about Muriel and her research, check out her website. It has a lot of interesting stuff! She also blogs about experimental and behavioral economics here.





  • Claudia Goldin and Joshua Mitchell have a new working paper on the changed lifecycle of women’s employment in the United States.
  • Are women really happier than men around the world? No, according to a new paper by Mallory Montgomery (on the econ job market). In fact, on average, women are less happy than men. (h/t Development Impact)
  • Why do harmful norms persist? Lindsey Novak, also on the job market, examines the case of female genital cutting in Burkina Faso. (h/t Development Impact)

Conferences in Delhi


Every December, the Delhi School of Economics and the Indian Statistical Institute organize two separate conferences that I have been lucky enough to attend several times. These are excellent gatherings of Indian and non-Indian economists working in and outside India, and in all fields. The weather in Delhi is excellent at this time of the year (the photos, however, are from this past summer!) and the food is better than all other conferences that I have been to.

I am also happy to see a lot more gender-related papers being presented this year. The ISI conference has 4 sessions on gender and a plenary session by Rohini Pande on women and work in India.

The programs for this year are here:

11th Annual Winter School, Delhi School of Economics

12th Annual Conference on Economic Growth and Development, ISI Delhi







Photo: Chris Crisman

  • Of the eight women newly elected to the US House of Representatives, five are women of color. Lenny profiles Kamala Harris (California), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada), Tammy Duckworth (Illinois), Pramila Jayapal (Washington), Lisa Blunt Rochester (Delaware), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota).
  • A new working paper on sexual violence, Title IX, and women’s college enrollment in the US.
  • Women’s Work: A photo project by Chris Crisman on women who have jobs not typically done by women.


Job Market Paper: Working Mothers and EITC

The Job Market Paper series highlights Ph.D. students in economics working on gender-related topics and currently on the job market. Email me if you are on the junior job market and would like me to link to your paper. I will try to post as many as I can.

Jacob Bastian, University of Michigan

Paper: The Rise of Working Mothers and the 1975 Earned Income Tax Credit

The rise of working mothers radically changed the U.S. economy and the role of women in society. Time-series data show a rapid increase in the employment of mothers—relative to women without children—beginning in the mid-1970s. In one of the first systematic studies of the 1975 introduction of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), I find that this program led to a 4-percentage-point (or 7 percent) rise in maternal employment—representing about one million mothers—and conclude that the EITC can help explain why the U.S. has such a high fraction of working mothers despite few childcare subsidies or parental-leave policies. I then test whether the EITC affected attitudes towards working women. I find that states with larger EITC responses—and larger predicted responses based on pre-1975 demographic and occupational traits—had larger post-1975 increases in attitudes approving of women working. Results are largest among lower-education men—who were most exposed to these newly working women—and do not appear to be driven by pre-1975 attitudes, demographic changes, or general trends in social norms. I also use racial attitudes as a placebo outcome. As a check on whether large increases of female workers can affect social attitudes, I also find attitude changes from increased female employment during World War II.



– The Spotlight series highlights the research of female economists, one at a time.

Michele Tertilt is a Professor of Economics at the University of Mannheim in Germany. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and worked as an Assistant Professor at Stanford University before joining Mannheim. Michele is a Managing Editor at the Review of Economic Studies and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Development Economics. She is also a Research Affiliate at BREAD and the European Development Research Network (EUDN) and a Research Fellow at CEPR.

Michele’s research concentrates on macroeconomics with a special focus on development and intra-family interactions. Her work has been published in top journals, including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Journal of Political Economy, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Review of Economic Studies.

One of her papers, jointly written with Matthias Doepke, that I really like is “Women’s Liberation: What’s in it for men?” “The nineteenth century witnessed dramatic improvements in the legal rights of married women. Given that they took place long before women gained the right to vote, these changes amounted to a voluntary renouncement of power by men.” In this paper, they “investigate men’s incentives for sharing power with women.” They “show that men face a tradeoff between the rights they want for their own wives (namely none) and the rights of other women in the economy. Men prefer other men’s wives to have rights because men care about their own daughters and because an expansion of women’s rights increases educational investments in children.” They “show that men may agree to relinquish some of their power once technological change increases the importance of human capital.” They corroborate this “argument with historical evidence on the expansion of women’s rights in England and the United States.”

For more information about Michele and her research, check out her website.