As part of the Vilfredo Pareto Research Seminar series, the International Economics Department at the Graduate Institute is pleased to invite you to a public talk given by Joshua D. Merfeld, Assistant Professor at KDI School of Public Policy and Management. He will present his research work Social Norms, Gender, and Market Failures: Evidence from Sectoral Wage Gaps in Rural India.
Abstract: Social norms are a powerful determinant of women's labor patterns, but their interaction with local economic contexts can better explain some observed labor allocation patterns. In this paper, I argue that social norms on women's mobility and market failures -- specifically, a lack of locally available non-farm wage employment -- interact to produce an apparent misallocation of wage labor among women in rural India. Consistent with previous estimates, non-farm wages are almost nine percent higher than agricultural wages in the entire sample, even when estimation restricts the sample to individuals who engage in both activities simultaneously. However, closer examination reveals that this gap is driven completely by women; while the sectoral wage gap for women is more than 16 percent, it completely disappears for men. Although social norms are frequently cited as an explanation for large gender wage gaps in developing countries, they cannot alone explain a wage gap among women who perform both non-farm and farm wage labor simultaneously. Instead, it is the interaction of norms that restrict women's mobility and a lack of local non-farm opportunities that produce this pattern.
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Joshua D. Merfeld is an Assistant Professor at KDI School of Public Policy and Management and a Research Affiliate at the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA). His research focuses on the microeconomics of development, as well as applied microeconometrics, labor markets in developing countries, and poverty.