Diffusion of Gender Norms: Evidence from Stalin's Ethnic Deportations
65 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2019
Date Written: June 2019
We study horizontal between-group cultural transmission using a unique historical setting, which combines exogenous group exposure with no control over how and whether the representatives of different groups interact. Stalin’s ethnic deportations during WWII moved over 2 million people, the majority of whom were ethnic Germans and Chechens, from the Western parts of the USSR to Central Asia and Siberia. As a result, the native population in the destination locations was exposed to groups with drastically different gender norms, depending on the group composition of the deportees. We estimate the effect of this exposure relying on the fact that within subnational regions the local population was fairly homogeneous, and the deportation destinations were determined by local demand for manual labor, orthogonal to the identity or skills of deportees. Combining historical archival data with contemporary surveys, we document that both the norms of gender equality and of gender discrimination were diffused to the local population exposed to deportee groups with these norms, manifesting itself in changes of attitudes and behavior.
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