DP12107 Eradicating Women-Hurting Customs: What Role for Social Engineering?

Author(s): Emmanuelle Auriol, Giula Camilotti, Jean-Philippe Platteau
Publication Date: June 2017
Keyword(s): coordination incentives, deterrence, expressive function of law, Gender, harmful customs, Social norms
JEL(s): D10, K10, K36, O15, Z10, Z13
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12107

Social engineering refers to deliberate attempts, often under the form of legislative moves, to promote changes in customs and norms that hurt the interests of marginalized population groups. This paper explores the analytical conditions under which social engineering is more or less likely to succeed than more indirect approaches when it comes to suppress gender-biased customs. This implies discussing the main possible interaction frameworks leading to anti-women equilibria, and deriving policy implications from the corresponding games. The theoretical arguments are illustrated by examples drawn from available empirical works, thus providing a reasoned survey of the literature.