Economics Research Seminar | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Economics Research Seminar

On the Economic Origins of Constraints on Women's Secuality

This paper studies the economic origins of customs aimed at constraining female sexuality, such as a particularly invasive form of female genital cutting, restrictions on women’s mobility, and norms about female sexual behavior. The analysis tests the anthropological theory that a particular form of pre-industrial economic production – subsisting on pastoralism – favored the adoption of such customs. Pastoralism was characterized by heightened paternity uncertainty due to frequent and often extended periods of male absence from the settlement, implying larger payoffs to imposing constraints on women’s sexuality. Using within-country variation across 500,000 women in 34 countries, the paper shows that women from historically more pastoral societies (i) are significantly more likely to have undergone infibulation, the most invasive form of female genital cutting; (ii) are more restricted in their mobility, and hold more tolerant views towards domestic violence as a sanctioning device for ignoring such constraints; and (iii) adhere to more restrictive norms about virginity and promiscuity. Instrumental variable estimations that make use of the ecological determinants of pastoralism support a causal interpretation of the results. The paper further shows that the mechanism behind these patterns is indeed male absenteeism, rather than male dominance per se.

Please join the Economics Department for a research seminar.  This event is open to all Case Western Reserve University faculty, Ph.D. students, economic majors and minors, and those interested in economics research.

Contact Information:

Teresa Kabat 

Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Peter B. Lewis Building, Room 118
11119 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, OH 44106-7235
United States
Speaker(s): Anke Becker, Ph.D., Harvard University
Sponsored by: Economics Department
On the Economic Origins


Related Events

Loading events…

For undergraduate programs: learn more information here or apply now. For graduate programs: request more information or apply now. You can also register for one of over 70 open enrollment courses through Executive Education.

Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University cultivates creativity, innovation, and purpose-driven leadership to design a better world.