Wednesday, April 14, 2010

About the persistence of gender roles

We live in a society where traditionally the role of the wife was to take care of the house and the children. Now that we have schools, daycare and better domestic technologies, wifes do not need to spend that much time at home and can participate in the labor market. By the principle of substitutability, when women work more on the market, men should participate more in household work, especially if the woman is the bread winner.

Sayyid Salman Rizavi and Catherine Sofer look at time use data in France. And while male household work responds to the female labor supply, it is nearly not enough to overcome century old persistence in gender roles. And yet, I would have thought that France would be, with Scandinavia, the first place where this would happen. Indeed, female labor market participation is especially high, French women are notoriously independent and yet they still manage to have more children than other Europeans. Somehow, they are really efficient, yet they still get burdened with most of the household work. There is no hope if even French women cannot make it.

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