Do.Re.Mee Seminar

ROOM 3-E4-SR03

“Municipal-level Gender Norms: Measurement and Effects on Women in Politics” 

by Luisa Carrer - Bocconi (with Lorenzo De Masi)


“It is never too late. Televised classes and adult skill acquisition” 

by Ilaria Malisan - Bocconi



PAPER 1 - “Municipal-level Gender Norms: Measurement and Effects on Women in Politics”


Luisa Carrer (Bocconi University)


We study the implications of traditional gender norms for legislators' engagement with women's issues. We leverage rich data from Facebook on the popularity of gender-related interests (processed using machine learning algorithms) to develop a granular Gender Norms Index (GNI) at the municipal level within Italy, a geographical resolution that would otherwise be unavailable. After validating our index, we leverage this local variation in norms to isolate their impact on legislators' policy activity in the Italian Parliament. We show that while female legislators generally sponsor more gender-related bills than their male counterparts, their engagement is substantially smaller if they were born in a gender-conservative town. This result persists even when comparing legislators within the same party, constituency or with similar characteristics. The absence of such a systematic impact on non-gender legislation further reinforces the causal interpretation of our estimates. Supplementary evidence on voting behavior suggests that gender norms also affect the passage of pro-equality legislation. Overall, our findings highlight the importance of social norms and sexist culture in lawmaking, thereby slowing down reform for the expansion of women's rights.


Luisa Carrer is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Dondena Research Center at Bocconi University, under the supervision of Alessandra Casarico. She is also a PhD candidate in Economics at the Toulouse School of Economics, with expected completion in June 2024. Her research lies at the intersection of Public Economics and Political Economy, with a focus on gender-relevant topics. In particular, she is interested in studying how social norms interact with the design and implementation of government policy.



PAPER 2 - “It is never too late. Televised classes and adult skill acquisition”


Ilaria Malisan (Bocconi University)


This paper compares literacy rates in 1960s Italy among municipalities with differential access to televised classes specifically geared to adult workers. Exploiting Census data and TV signal exposure differences due to an expanding national TV system and geographical constraints in a continuous difference in differences setting, preliminary results show that going from 0% to 100% of the population within a municipality being served by TV signal, and hence being able to watch the educational TV program, leads to a 1 percentage point increase in literacy rates. This explains 18% of the average literacy rate increase around the educational TV program airing years. While this estimate increases to 1.4 percentage points if we consider men only, estimates are not statistically different from zero if we only consider women, likely due to gender norms preventing access to communal TVs for women.


Ilaria is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Social Inclusion Lab (Dondena) about to obtain her PhD in Economics from the University of Turin and Collegio Carlo Alberto. Her work focuses on the impact of education, training and human capital on labor market outcomes and inequalities.