DP14493 Men. Roots and Consequences of Masculinity Norms

Author(s): Victoria Baranov, Ralph de Haas, Pauline Grosjean
Publication Date: March 2020
Date Revised: May 2021
Keyword(s): Cultural persistence, identity, Masculinity, Natural Experiment, Sex ratio
JEL(s): I31, J12, J16, N37, O10, Z13
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Development Economics, Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14493

We document the historical roots and contemporary consequences of masculinity norms: beliefs about the proper conduct of men. We exploit a natural experiment in which convict transportation in the 18th and 19th centuries created a variegated spatial pattern of sex ratios across Australia. Areas that were heavily male-biased in the past (though not the present) remain characterized by more violence, higher rates of male suicide and other forms of preventable male mortality, and more male-stereotypical occupational segregation. Further evidence indicates that in these historically male-biased areas, more Australians recently voted against same-sex marriage and that boys-but not girls-are more likely to be bullied in school. We interpret these results as manifestations of masculinity norms that emerged due to intense local male-male competition and that are distinct from traditional gender norms about women. Once established, masculinity norms have persisted over time through family socialization as well as peer socialization in schools.