David Yanagizawa-Drott: Perceived Gender Norms: Global Evidence
What people perceive as the norms or attitudes in society affects important behavior. The existence of misperceptions implies the potential for behavioral change through low-cost information interventions. In this paper, we present new facts on perceived vs. actual gender norms - previously not examined systematically across the globe - using newly-collected nationally representative datasets from 60 countries, covering 80% of the world population. We focus on two distinct dimensions: 1) equality in basic rights, by allowing women to work outside of the home, and 2) equality in outcomes through affirmative action, by prioritizing women when hiring for leadership positions. The first dimension is particularly relevant in countries with unequal rights and thus low levels of gender equality, and the second dimension is pertinent to countries with equal rights but remaining gaps in outcomes. We detect a few striking patterns. First, in essentially all countries, misperceptions are substantial, for both what women and men prefer. Second, two distinct patterns arise globally: In countries with low levels of gender equality, people underestimate the support for equalization of rights across the sexes, particularly by men. By contrast, in countries with relatively high gender equality where rights are equal, people overestimate support for equality through affirmative action, particularly by women. We then experimentally establish that misperceptions about national opinions matter as an input for perceptions about very local peer groups. Finally, we provide evidence consistent with a mechanism of stereotype thinking as an important driver of these global patterns.
Paper joint with Leonardo Bursztyn (University of Chicago), Alexander Cappelen (Norwegian School of Economics), Bertil Tungodden (Norwegian School of Economics) and Alessandra Voena (Stanford University).
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