Luisa CARRER's PhD Thesis, June 17th

June 17, 2024 Research

Luisa CARRER will defend her thesis on Monday June 17th, at 4:30pm, only Online by zoom.

"Essays on the Economics of Gender"

Supervisors: Helmuth CREMER & Victor GAY

To attend the conference, please contact the secretariat Christelle Fotso Tatchum

Memberships are:

  • Helmuth CREMER : Professor in Economics, University of Toulouse Capitole Directeur de thèse
  • Victor GAY : Assistant Professor, University of Toulouse Capitole Co-directeur de thèse
  • Francesca BARIGOZZI : Professor in Economics, University of Bologna Examinatrice
  • Maria GUADALUPE : Professor in Economics, INSEAD Business School Rapporteure
  • Chiara CANTA : Associate Professor in Economics, Toulouse Business School Rapporteure



How do social norms interact with the design and implementation of government policy? This thesis aims to quantify the extent to which social norms affect how legislators design gender-related policies, and how these norms attenuate (or exacerbate) their effects on household behavior. Specifically, each chapter explores the following key questions. What drives politicians to support or oppose specific policies? How does the desirability of a policy change under alternative social norm regimes? How do we generalize welfare analysis to account for non-pecuniary gains?

In the first chapter, "Municipal-level Gender Norms: Measurement and Effects on Women in Politics" (with Lorenzo De Masi from Carlos III University of Madrid), we show that traditional gender norms reduce female legislators' engagement with women's issues, thus slowing down reform for the expansion of women's rights. We develop an innovative index of gender norms based on Facebook data (processed using machine learning algorithms) to capture variation in attitudes towards women's role at the municipal level in Italy, a geographical resolution that would otherwise be unavailable. The index granularity allows to control for the main determinants of a politician's activity, such as party influences or constituency demands, thus ruling out competing explanations. The key contribution of this work is to leverage a novel source of within-country variation in attitudes, thus proposing a quantitative method that can be generalized to measure sub-national differences in different dimensions of social norms.

In the second chapter, "The Effectiveness of Parental Leaves when Social Norms Matter", I develop a conceptual framework to highlight feedback effects between conservative social norms towards women's role in society and the impact of parental leave policies. I study a model in which an endogenous norm regarding maternal care affects mothers' career and couples' newborn care choices. The key ingredient is that mothers devoting less time to newborn-care than the average suffer a utility cost, interpreted as a norm cost. Because of the norm, mothers caring for their children exert a negative externality on productive mothers who do not spend "enough" time with their kids compared to the norm. When introducing parental leave rights in such a setting, mothers take inefficiently long leaves due to the norm. Therefore, standard parental leave schemes may fail to foster gender convergence, reinforcing conservative gender roles. Conversely, fathers' quotas reserving a fraction of the leave for fathers can implement the social optimum. Intuitively, when sharing leave with fathers, mothers take shorter leaves, which in turn decreases the norm costs suffered by other mothers. Hence, policies aiming to increase fathers' involvement in care are socially desirable not only for gender equity, but also on the grounds of efficiency.

In the third chapter, "A Welfare Analysis of Universal Childcare: Lessons from a Canadian Reform" (with Sébastien Montpetit from Toulouse School of Economics and Pierre-Loup Beauregard from University of British Columbia), we quantify the welfare effect of universal childcare provision, integrating insights from the model-free sufficient-statistics framework with structural estimation. We leverage variation from the 1997 Québec reform, which introduced universal low-fee daycare in 1997. We estimate the policy's Marginal Value of Public Funds (MVPF), defined as the ratio of the beneficiaries' utility gains over the net governmental costs. Contrary to the benchmark sufficient-statistics metric, we compute the beneficiaries' utility gains by estimating a simple model of household behavior. This allows us to incorporate non-pecuniary benefits of childcare use for parents - benefits that the benchmark estimator overlooks. Structural estimates suggest that the policy's benefits are about twice as large than in the benchmark sufficient-statistics metric.