Decomposing Culture: An Analysis of Gender, Language, and Labor Supply in the Household
51 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2015 Last revised: 1 Feb 2017
Date Written: January 31, 2017
Despite broad progress in closing many dimensions of the gender gap around the globe, recent research has shown that traditional gender roles can still exert a large influence on female labor force participation, even in developed economies. This paper empirically analyzes the role of culture in determining the labor market engagement of women within the context of collective models of household decision making. In particular, we use the epidemiological approach to study the relationship between gender in language and labor market participation among married female immigrants to the U.S. We show that the presence of gender in language can act as a marker for culturally acquired gender roles and that these roles are important determinants of household labor allocations. Female immigrants who speak a language with sex-based grammatical rules exhibit lower labor force participation, hours worked, and weeks worked. Our strategy of isolating one component of culture allows us to shed light on several important mechanisms influencing women’s economic engagement, including the role of bargaining power in the household and the impact of ethnic enclaves. Our results further suggest that language may influence behavior in both of these contexts.
Keywords: Language, Gender, Immigrant Studies
JEL Classification: J16, J21, Z10, J61
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation