Mothers, Peers and Gender-Role Identity

45 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2018

See all articles by Claudia Olivetti

Claudia Olivetti

Boston College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Eleonora Patacchini

Cornell University

Yves Zenou

Monash University - Department of Economics; Stockholm University; Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IUI); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: August 12, 2018


We study whether a woman's labor supply as a young adult is shaped by the work behavior of her adolescent peers' mothers. Using detailed information on a sample of U.S. teenagers who are followed over time, we find that labor force participation of high school peers' mothers affects adult women's labor force participation, above and beyond the effect of their own mothers. The analysis suggests that women who were exposed to a larger number of working mothers during adolescence are less likely to feel that work interferes with family responsibilities. This perception, in turn, is important for whether they work when they have children.

Keywords: Role models, identity, female labor supply, peer effects, work-family conflict

JEL Classification: J22, Z13

Suggested Citation

Olivetti, Claudia and Patacchini, Eleonora and Zenou, Yves, Mothers, Peers and Gender-Role Identity (August 12, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Claudia Olivetti

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Eleonora Patacchini

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Yves Zenou (Contact Author)

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )


Stockholm University ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IUI) ( email )

P.O. Box 5501
S-114 85 Stockholm

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

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