Brown Bag Lunch
Carlotta Nani

Perceived abilities and gender stereotypes within the household: Experimental evidence from Bangladesh

Carlotta Nani, PhD Candidate, Development Economics
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Room S4, Maison de la paix, Geneva

Weekly series where professors and doctoral students presenting their ongoing research.

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Abstract: Is it possible to improve women’s agency by providing information on their abilities? I design an innovative lab experiment to study how spouses’ perceptions about abilities and gender stereotypes shape intra-household dynamics. I conduct a lab experiment in 42 rural villages in Bangladesh and I investigate (i) whether women are discriminated against because of perceptions about their abilities (ii) whether providing information on their skills can reduce gender bias. The lab experiment consists of an incentivized decision-making game played by 525 married couples. During the game, I provide information on women’s abilities and I observe how allocations and beliefs change. Preliminary results indicate that women are perceived as less capable than men. The more unable they are perceived, the less involved they are in decision-making. After the information provision, spouses who think the husband is better than the wife respond more to the treatment and are 20 percent more likely to make allocations in favour of women. This suggests that the gender discrimination observed within households is statistical. Control preferences and risk aversion emerge as potential alternative mechanisms shaped by gender stereotypes. Social pressure and gender beliefs seem to be taste-based.