Discussion paper

DP18920 Conflict and Gender Norms

We study the relationship between exposure to historical conflict involving heavy weaponry and male-favoring gender norms. We argue that the physical nature of such conflict produced cultural norms favoring males and male offspring. We focus on spatial variation in gender norms across India, a dynamic developing economy in which gender inequality persists. We show robust evidence that areas with high exposure to pre-colonial conflict are significantly more likely to exhibit male-favoring gender norms as measured by male-biased sex ratios and crimes against women. We document how conflict-related gender norms have been transmitted over time via male-favoring folkloric traditions, the gender identity of temple gods, and male-biased marriage practices, and have been transmitted across space by migrants originally from areas with high conflict exposure.


Dincecco, M, J Fenske, B Gupta and A Menon (2024), ‘DP18920 Conflict and Gender Norms‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18920. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18920