Gender Norms and the Motherhood Penalty: Experimental Evidence from India
Arjun Bedi, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) , Erasmus University Rotterdam
This paper uses a field experiment to study the effect of perceived gender norms and empowerment on the motherhood penalty in the Indian labor market. We randomly reported motherhood on fictitious CVs sent to service sector jobs. We generated variation in gender norms by signaling community origins of applicants. Employers are less likely to call back mothers relative to women or men without children. Mothers from Northeast India experience a smaller motherhood penalty and those of matrilineal origin face no penalty, unlike those of patrilineal origin. Heterogeneity analysis suggests that organizations in the BPO/call center sector, with frequent nightshifts and variable work schedules, disadvantage mothers more strongly than those in the banking/finance sector. Complementary qualitative interviews with key informants help us to interpret employers’ perspectives of community origins and female empowerment. Employers appear to value the competitiveness, cultural background and supportive household arrangements associated with certain applications, in our case those from Northeast India. Our research provides novel experimental evidence on the role of gender norms – induced by societal origins – as an underlying channel in determining motherhood penalties imposed by organizations.
About the speaker
Arjun Singh Bedi is Professor of Development Economics and Deputy Rector for Research at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Prior to joining ISS in 1999, he held positions at the University of Bonn (1998-99) and Columbia University (1996-98). In 2013-2014 he was visiting professor at Georgetown University's campus in Doha. His research focuses on labour and human resource economics in developing countries. His work has been published in several international economics and development studies journals including European Economic Review, Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Development Economics, Economic Development and Cultural Change, Health Economics, Journal of Development Studies, Applied Economics, Labour Economics, Economics of Transition,Economics of Education Review and World Development.
Venue: Room 0.18, Boschstraat 24, Maastricht (UNU-MERIT) and Online
Date: 16 November 2023
Time: 12:00 - 13:00 CET