NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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 P. 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.

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This paper was revised on December 19, 2013

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w19109, The Supply of Gender Stereotypes and Discriminatory Beliefs, Edward L. Glaeser, Yueran Ma
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