The Supply of Gender Stereotypes and Discriminatory Beliefs

Edward L. Glaeser, Yueran Ma

Chapter in NBER book Human Capital in History: The American Record (2014), Leah Platt Boustan, Carola Frydman, and Robert A. Margo, editors (p. 355 - 389)
Conference held December 7-8, 2012
Published in October 2014 by University of Chicago Press
© 2014 by the National Bureau of Economic Research

What determines beliefs about the ability and appropriate role of women? An overwhelming majority of men and women born early in the twentieth century thought women should not work; a majority now believes that work is appropriate for both genders. To explain this change, we present a model where parents perpetuate beliefs out of a desire to encourage the production of grandchildren. Undersupply of female education will encourage daughters' fertility, directly by reducing the opportunity cost of their time and indirectly by leading daughters to believe that they are less capable. Children will be particularly susceptible to persuasion if they overestimate their parents' altruism towards themselves. The supply of persuasion will diminish if women work before child-bearing, which may explain why gender-related beliefs changed radically among generations born in the 1940s.

download in pdf format
   (328 K)

email paper

This paper was revised on May 6, 2016

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.7208/chicago/9780226163925.003.0011

This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w19109, The Supply of Gender Stereotypes and Discriminatory Beliefs, Edward L. Glaeser, Yueran Ma
Users who downloaded this chapter also downloaded* these:
Engerman Claudia Goldin
Muralidharan and Sheth w19341 Bridging Education Gender Gaps in Developing Countries: The Role of Female Teachers
Friedman, Kremer, Miguel, and Thornton w16939 Education as Liberation?
Bailey, Guldi, and Hershbein Is There a Case for a "Second Demographic Transition"? Three Distinctive Features of the Post-1960 U.S. Fertility Decline
Katz and Margo Technical Change and the Relative Demand for Skilled Labor: The United States in Historical Perspective
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us