Discussion paper

DP9045 Gender Discrimination: The Role of Males and Per Capita Income

This paper models gender discrimination in the labor market as originating from bargaining between husbands and wives within the family. The husband-wife household bargains over resource distribution, with each spouse's bargaining power determined by his/her market income. Men are reluctant to grant women easy access to the labor market as, despite the obvious income drag on family income, gender discrimination allows the male to benefit from greater bargaining power. In a model with endogenous savings, fertility, labor force participation, and gender wage discrimination, we demonstrate how economic development, which increases the financial cost of discrimination, gives rise to a positive cycle of greater female participation, lower fertility, and higher income. We use data from the World Value Survey and the International Social Survey Program and show that economic development is negatively related to male preference for discrimination. For low levels of development, a majority of men have discriminatory views; at around annual per capita incomes of 15.000 USD there is a turning point and non-discriminatory men become the majority. We then exploit the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth in the U.S. to examine how men change their discriminatory views over time. Other things equal, men with high-income spouses are more likely to change their views on women toward less discrimination, while the exact opposite holds for men with low-income spouses. Our findings suggest that discriminatory views are indeed endogenous and lose strength over the course of economic development.


Tavares, J (2012), ‘DP9045 Gender Discrimination: The Role of Males and Per Capita Income‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 9045. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp9045