Essais sur les normes et les inégalités de genre

par Clémentine Van Effenterre

Projet de thèse en Analyse et politique économiques

Sous la direction de Thomas Piketty.

Thèses en préparation à Paris, EHESS , dans le cadre de École doctorale d'Économie (Paris) depuis le 20-09-2013 .


  • Résumé

    This dissertation examines the role of gender norms and institutions on human capital formation, labor supply, and political preferences. In the first chapter of this dissertation, I use both theoretical and empirical analysis to study the impact of offspring’s gender on their parental political beliefs toward gender issues. I derive a simple economic model, which predicts that fathers with paternalistic preferences adopt more extreme political positions when they have a daughter than when they have a son. The empirical investigation relies on two original sources of data. My results suggest a polarization effect of daughters on their father’s attitudes toward abortion right and reconcile conflicting findings on the effect of daughters on men’s political preferences. The main contribution of this paper is to show that men’s political preferences might respond differently to the presence of a daughter, according to their more general political beliefs. In the second chapter, in collaboration with Emma Duchini, we investigate women’s employment decisions when institutions limit their chances of having a regular working schedule. We exploit the peculiarity of the French school schedule - and a recent reform as a natural experiment - to show that women do value flexibility when their children demand it. However, we also find out that the possibility to attain a flexible working schedule hinges on the interplay between the cost that this imposes at work, the bargaining power that women have vis-à-vis their employer, and the role they have in the household. This paper formulates an innovative approach to test the theory of the cost flexibility, according to which certain women are more penalized for having a less continuous presence at work. The third chapter reports the results of a large scale randomized experiment showing that a light-touch in-class intervention of external female role models can influence students’ attitudes and contribute to a significant change in their choice of field of study. While the impact of peers and "horizontal exposure" on aspirations gained greater attention in the recent literature, surprisingly little is known on the impact of exposure to role models on students’ attitudes and schooling decisions. Together with Thomas Breda, Julien Grenet and Marion Monnet, we implemented and monitored a large-scale experiment in randomly selected high-school classes in France from September 2015 to February 2016. We first document gender differences in attitudes toward science, as well as the prevalence of stereotypical opinions with respect to women in science among high school students. Using random assignment of students to a one-hour intervention, we investigate the causal impact of role models on aspirations, attitudes, and educational investment. External female role models significantly reduce the prevalence of stereotypes associated to jobs in science, both for female and male students. Using exhaustive administrative data, we show that the proportion of female students enrolled in selective science programs after high school graduation increases by 3 percentage points, which corresponds to a 30 percent-increase with respect to the baseline mean. These effects are essentially driven by higher achieving students.

  • Titre traduit

    Essays on gender norms and inequality


  • Résumé

    This dissertation examines the role of gender norms and institutions on human capital formation, labor supply, and political preferences. In the first chapter, I use both theoretical and empirical analysis to study the impact of offspring’s gender on their parental political beliefs toward gender issues. I examine the hypothesis that men’s political attitudes toward abortion do respond to the presence of a daughter, but differently according to their general political beliefs. This polarization effect of daughters means that the presence of a daughter is associated with more anti-abortion (respectively pro-abortion) views for right-wing (respectively left-wing) fathers. This argument is investigated in a simple economic model and its implications are studied empirically using two original datasets. The model predicts that fathers with paternalistic preferences adopt more extreme political positions when they have a daughter than when they have a son. The empirical investigation provides evidence of a polarization effect of daughters on fathers’ views on abortion. The magnitude of the effect corresponds to around 30% of the impact of right-wing political affiliation on abortion support. In the second chapter, in collaboration with Emma Duchini, we investigate women’s em- ployment decisions when institutions limit their chances of having a regular working schedule. We exploit the peculiarity of the French school schedule - and a recent reform as a natural experiment - to show that women do value flexibility when their children demand it. Prior to the introduction of the reform, women whose youngest child was of primary school age were twice as likely as men not to work on Wednesdays and thus adapt their labor supply to the presence of children. We also find out that the possibility to attain a flexible working schedule hinges on the interplay between the cost that this imposes at work, the bargaining power that women have vis-à-vis their employer, and the role they have in the household. To measure mothers’ response we exploit variation in the implementation of this policy over time and across the age of the youngest child. Our results show that, although mothers do not increase their total weekly hours of work, they do take advantage of the fall in the value of flexibility to close 1/3 of their initial gap in the probability of working on Wednesday with respect to the control group. This response seems to be driven by mothers who are more rewarded for a regular presence at work, such as those working in managerial positions. This paper formulates an innovative approach to test the theory of the cost of flexibility, ac- cording to which certain women are more heavily penalized for less continuous presence at work. The third chapter reports the results of a large scale randomized experiment showing that a light-touch, in-class intervention of external female role models, can influence students’ attitudes and contribute to a significant change in their choice of field of study. While the impact of peers and "horizontal exposure" on aspirations gained greater attention in the recent literature, surprisingly little is known about the impact of exposure to role models on students’ attitudes and schooling decisions. Together with Thomas Breda, Julien Grenet and Marion Monnet, we implemented and monitored a large-scale experiment in randomly selected high-school classes in France from September 2015 to February 2016. We first document gender differences in attitudes toward science, as well as the prevalence of stereotypical opinions with respect to women in science among high school students. Using random assignment of students to a one-hour intervention, we investigate the causal impact of role models on aspirations, attitudes, and educational investment. External female role models significantly reduce the prevalence of stereotypes associated to jobs in science, both for female and male students. Using exhaustive administrative data, we do not find significant effect of the treatment on the choices of year 10-students, but we show that the proportion of female students enrolled in selective science programs after high school graduation increases by 3 percentage points, which corresponds to a 30 percent-increase with respect to the baseline mean. These effects are essentially driven by high-achieving students.