"Women Are Not Men," Continued

An interesting followup to our recent "Women Are Not Men" podcast, from a listener named Misty Touchette. This incident might more appropriately be called "Men Are Not Men":

I have two female friends that are about 30 and 55 years old.  They don't know each other and have very different backgrounds.  A few weeks ago, both gleefully told me about their new Facebook accounts.  They'd made them under the guise of men.  Both chose a similar figure head: a photo of a white, attractive man. The reason? They were tired of being unfriended by issues/cause/political groups when engaging in ... civic discourse.  When presenting themselves as women, their comments, even simple statements of alternate opinions on a topic, were flamed, trolled or deleted and then, of course, they were booted from some pages.  

I realize that women penning under a man's pen name is nothing new.  As others have before them I'm sure, my friends have reported that the new manly persona are yielding an increase in support, silence/tolerance replacing backlash or a return in civil discourse.  After listening to "Women Are Not Men" and considering my friends, I couldn't help but wonder, hey, how many Wikipedians labeled as men are actually women?

Taking on the Myths of Child Mortality

Hans Rosling, whose fantastic animated-data talks have been featured here before, has a new one about child-mortality trends.

The video was timed to coincide with the release of Bill Gates's 2013 Annual Letter, which notes successful health reforms in Ethiopia and the importance of quality measurements.  "[A]ny innovation -- whether it's a new vaccine or an improved seed -- can't have an impact unless it reaches the people who will benefit from it," writes Gates.

The Mixed Blessings of a Welfare Program

A new paper (abstract; PDF) by Gustavo J. Bobonis, Melissa González-Brenes, and Roberto Castro examines the effects the Mexican welfare program Oportunidades on spousal abuse:

Beneficiary women are 40 percent less likely to be victims of physical abuse, but are more likely to receive violent threats with no associated abuse. This evidence is consistent with a model of decision-makers' interactions with asymmetric information in the male partner's gains to marriage, who can then use threats of violence to extract rents from their female partners.

"The article may have important implications for policy, since it provide a mixed view of conditional cash transfer programs’ effectiveness in improving women’s empowerment within the household," the authors wrote in an earlier draft. "The program may increase the likelihood of violent threats, which may in turn compromise women’s emotional health and other aspects of their wellbeing."

In SuperFreakonomics, Levitt and Dubner wrote about another interesting research finding gleaned from Oportunidades data:

Pop Culture Introspection, Part I: Why Do the Couples From The Bachelorette Do So Much Better Than Those From The Bachelor?

 Of the sixteen The Bachelor shows, only four relationships from the show lasted at least a year.  Only two couples are still together.  In contrast, five of the seven The Bachelorette seasons led to relationships that lasted at least a year. (Although only two of the couples are still together.)

Why the difference? Just chance, or does it tell us something about men, women, and relationships?

Why Do American Women Work More Than Europeans?

Economists Indraneel Chakraborty and Hans Holter have an explanation for all those extra hours Americans work as compared to Europeans: divorce rates (and tax rates)  Here's their theory:

We believe this is because marriage provides an implicit social insurance since the spouses are able to share their income. However, if divorce rates are higher in a society, women have a higher incentive to obtain work experience in case they find themselves alone in the future. The reason the incentive is higher is because in our data, women happen to be the second earner in the household more often than men. European women anticipate not getting divorced as often and hence find less reason to insure themselves by working as much as American women.

Chakraborty and Holter use U.S data to run a model testing their theory; their findings are interesting:

Affirmative Action: Changing Stereotypes

In a new article for Vox, Karla Hoff, a senior research economist at the World Bank, presents an argument for affirmative action.  Hoff argues that stereotypes can be self-fulfilling, and affirmative action represents an important tool for changing stereotypes and correcting inequality in the long-term:

For economists to ignore the factors that affect how we process information as part of the interpretation of economic change would be as wrong as to ignore the evolution of technology itself. Ideology shapes what we see and how well we perform. Ideology can give rise to “equilibrium fictions.” In our framework, changes in power, technology, and contacts with the outside world matter not just directly but because they can lead to changes in ideology. 

Hoff highlights a natural experiment in India that changed perceptions of female leadership over the course of ten years:

One Woman's View of the Female Wage Gap

Jennifer Colosi runs a San Francisco executive search firm with a concentration in finance. Here's what she wrote in to say about our analysis of the persistent female-male wage gap:

Agreed with all you wrote about wage gaps between women and men.

Why yes, women do love kids!

You are exactly right - a higher wage isn't as important to some woman - because it comes at a "household" cost.

Did Risk of Divorce Drive Boomer Women to Increase Their Education?

A new working paper from authors Raquel Fernandez and Joyce Cheng Wong highlights the stark differences in the lives of two generations of American women: those born in 1935 and those born just 20 years later in 1955. The authors found that education, wage structure and divorce were the main causes to changes in labor force participation.

From the abstract:

Women born in 1935 went to college significantly less than their male counterparts and married women’s labor force participation (LFP) averaged 40% between the ages of thirty and forty. The cohort born twenty years later behaved very differently. The education gender gap was eliminated and married women’s LFP averaged 70% over the same ages... We find that the higher probability of divorce and the changes in wage structure faced by the 1955 cohort are each able to explain, in isolation, a large proportion (about 60%) of the observed changes in female LFP.

Did Women's Lib Movement Increase Income Gap in the U.S.?

Reader Chris Fawcett writes in with an intriguing question: How did the women's liberation movement affect the income gap in the U.S.?

Income inequality has been on the rise in the U.S. since the 1970s, roughly the same time that women began entering the workforce in large numbers. Considering the amount of attention the widening income gap gets these days as a source of our economic woes, it seemed like something worth posting.

Here's how Chris sees the issue:

There are a number of ways I believe this has had a big impact (maybe the biggest impact of any single issue):

1. Women's participation in the workplace has doubled in the past half century.
2. The divorce rate has increased steadily in the past half century.
3. It is more socially acceptable to not have children (through choice or abortion).
4. People are getting married later in life.

In relation to the commonly used CBO "household" income numbers, I think these issues may have had a huge effect on the perception of the widening income gap as follows:

Wife Sales: "An Efficiency-Enhancing Institutional Response"

Peter Leeson, Peter Boettke, and Jayme Lemke, all of George Mason University, have issued a new paper called "Wife Sales" (abstract here; PDF here):

For over a century English husbands sold their wives at public auctions. We argue that wife sales were indirect Coasean divorce bargains that permitted wives to buy the right to exit marriage from their husbands in a legal environment that denied them the property rights required to buy that right directly. Wife-sale auctions identified "suitors" - men who valued unhappy wives more than their current husbands, who unhappy wives valued more than their current husbands, and who had the property rights required to buy unhappy wives' right to exit marriage from their husbands. These suitors enabled spouses in inefficient marriages to dissolve their marriages where direct Coasean divorce bargains between them were impossible. Wife sales were an efficiency-enhancing institutional response to the unusual constellation of property rights that Industrial Revolution-era English law created. They made husbands, suitors, and wives better off.

(HT: Tomas Simon)