Fear of Inflation and Gender Representation in Central Banking

45 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021 Last revised: 14 Feb 2022

See all articles by Cristina Bodea

Cristina Bodea

Michigan State University

Andrew Kerner

Michigan State University

Date Written: February 5, 2021


Women held only 11% of seats on global central bank boards between 2000 and 2015, with significant variation across countries. What explains women’s under-representation in central banking? We link these patterns to gender’s impact on central bankers’ ability to signal commitments to price stability. Governments that are concerned with inflation often want central bankers that can anchor inflationary expectations by credibly committing to being a “hawk,” i.e., prioritizing low inflation over other plausible priorities. We suggest that hawkishness is a stereotypically “male” quality, and that women are consequently under-represented where the need for bankers to project hawkishness is largest. That need is greatest, and female central bankers scarcest, in countries with histories of inflation, and institutional governance that highlight central bankers’ personal reputations - independent central banks and flexible exchange rates. We test our theory using a new dataset on the gender composition of central bank boards in 114 countries for years 1998-2015. We find strong support for our hypotheses, particularly as determinants of longer-term trends.

Keywords: Gender, Central Bank Boards, Inflation, Conservatism, Central Bank Independence, Flexible Exchange Rates

Suggested Citation

Bodea, Cristina and Kerner, Andrew, Fear of Inflation and Gender Representation in Central Banking (February 5, 2021). European Journal of Political Economy, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3780220 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3780220

Cristina Bodea (Contact Author)

Michigan State University ( email )

Agriculture Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1122
United States

Andrew Kerner

Michigan State University ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

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