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Gender Norms and the Motherhood Penalty: Experimental Evidence from India

'Gender Norms and the Motherhood Penalty: Experimental Evidence from India' receives a best paper prize in Economics at the Asia Pacific Business and Economics Conference.

The article by Arjun S. Bedi, Tanmoy Majilla and Matthias Rieger, received a best paper prize in Economics at the Asia Pacific Business and Economics Conference which took place at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta on January 17-18, 2018.

Abstract 

Labour market participation of women in developing countries, such as India, remains low, in particular among mothers. This paper uses a field experiment to study the effect of perceived gender norms on the motherhood penalty in the Indian labor market.

We exogenously reported motherhood on fictitious CVs sent to entry-level service sector job openings in three Indian cities. We generated variation in gender norms by prominently signaling patrilineal or matrilineal community origins of applicants. 

Findings

We find that employers are less likely to call back mothers relative to women or men without children, but only if they are of patrilineal origin. Matrilineal mothers face no such penalty. There is also suggestive evidence that experience dampens the motherhood penalty.

We also find that women from north-eastern India, of both patrilineal and matrilineal origin, face discrimination in sectors with face to face client interaction.

We discuss our results within the Indian context and theories of discrimination.

Professor
Faculteit
International Institute of Social Studies
Professor
Faculteit
International Institute of Social Studies
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Keywords: gender, culture, motherhood penalty, field experiment, India

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Contact the authors  –  Arjun Bedi bedi@iss.nl, Tanmoy Majilla tanmoydd@gmail.com, Matthias Rieger matthias.rieger@graduateinstitute.ch

Acknowledgements – We received helpful comments from Brigitte Vézina and Brandon Restrepo. This study has received approval from the Ethics Committee of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS).