Male-biased Sex Ratios and Masculinity Norms: Evidence from Australia’s Colonial Past

UNSW Business School Research Paper

Posted: 12 Oct 2018 Last revised: 12 May 2022

See all articles by Victoria Baranov

Victoria Baranov

University of Melbourne

Ralph De Haas

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); KU Leuven

Pauline A. Grosjean

UNSW Business School, School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 10, 2022

Abstract

We document the historical roots and contemporary consequences of masculinity norms: beliefs about the proper conduct of men. We exploit a natural experiment in which convict transportation in the 18th and 19th centuries created a variegated spatial pattern of sex ratios across Australia. We show that in areas with heavily male-biased convict populations, relatively more men volunteered for World War I about a century later. Even at present these areas remain characterized by more violence, higher rates of male suicide and other forms of preventable male mortality, and more male-stereotypical occupational segregation. Moreover, in these historically male-biased areas, more Australians recently voted against same-sex marriage and boys (but not girls) are more likely to be bullied in school. We interpret these results as manifestations of masculinity norms that emerged due to intense local male-male competition. Once established, masculinity norms persisted over time through family socialization as well as peer socialization in schools.

Keywords: Masculinity, identity, sex ratio, natural experiment, cultural persistence

JEL Classification: I31, J12, J16, N37, O10, Z13

Suggested Citation

Baranov, Victoria and De Haas, Ralph and Grosjean, Pauline A., Male-biased Sex Ratios and Masculinity Norms: Evidence from Australia’s Colonial Past (May 10, 2022). UNSW Business School Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3185694 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3185694

Victoria Baranov

University of Melbourne

Ralph De Haas (Contact Author)

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ( email )

One Exchange Square
London, EC2A 2JN
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: www.ebrd.com

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

KU Leuven

Naamsestraat 69
Leuven, B-3000
Belgium

Pauline A. Grosjean

UNSW Business School, School of Economics ( email )

High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
6,908
PlumX Metrics