Dondena gender initiative


2023 - n° 157

Women’s labor force participation has increased remarkably in western countries, but important gender gaps still remain, especially among parents. This paper uses a novel comparative perspective assessing women’s and men’s mid-life employment trajectories by parity and education. We provide new insight into the gendered parenthood penalty by analyzing the long-term implications, beyond the core childbearing ages by decomposing years lived between ages 40 to 74 into years in employment, inactivity, and retirement. We compare three countries with very different institutional settings and cultural norms: Finland, Italy, and the U.S. Our empirical approach uses the multistate incidence-based life table method. Our results document large cross-national variation, and the key role that education plays. In Finland years employed increase with parity for women and men and the gender gap is small; in the U.S. the relation between parity and years employed is relatively flat whereas among those with two or more children a gender gap emerges; and in Italy, years employed decreases sharply with parity for women, and increases for men. Education elevates years employed similarly for all groups in Finland; but in the U.S and Italy, highly educated mothers experience only half of the gender gap compared to low-educated mothers. The employment trajectories of childless women and men differ greatly across countries.  

Angelo Lorenti; Jessica Nisen; Letizia Mencarini; Mikko Myrskylä


2022 - n° 155

State interventions to decrease the gender wage gap are often criticized for creating one-approach-forall which may be inappropriate for the specific difficulties faced by each sector and firm. In this paper, I study a unique policy where French firms were mandated by law to negotiate agreements on gender equality with union representatives. I estimate the causal effect of the signature of such agreements on the wage gap and other measures of gender inequalities. Using a unique combination of administrative datasets, I exploit the staggered signature of agreements over the 2010-2013 period and find that the law had an effect on the signature of those agreements but did not alter the gender wage gap nor many other outcomes reflecting gender inequalities. The absence of gender-related changes can plausibly be explained by the lack of obligation of result in the law and by the weak oversight of agreements’ content.

Caroline Coly
Keywords: GenderWage Gap, Agreements, Gender Law, Pay Transparency
2022 - n° 153

The standard model of household behavior predicts that couples cooperate to maximize family income. This paper shows that gender identity norms repre- sent an important friction preventing family income maximization. For identi- fication, we focus on an Italian policy that grants a large tax credit to the main earner in a couple when the second earner reports income below a cutoff. Using new tax returns data, we show large bunching responses at the tax credit cut- off from second earner women, but no response from second earner men. This result suggests that household decisions are not Pareto-efficient when men are the second earner within the couple. Gender differences in bunching mostly emerge after marriage and childbirth, and do not reflect any gender-specific dif- ference in scope for bunching. In support of the view that gender norms drive our results, we find that gender differences in bunching are relatively larger among immigrants coming from more conservative societies, and natives liv- ing in more gender-traditional municipalities. Additionally, these results have important implications for gender inequality: we show that the spouse tax credit persistently limits women’s careers and amplifies the gender income gap.

Tommaso Giommoni, Enrico Rubolino
Keywords: Gender norms, gender inequality, spouse tax credit, income taxation.
2022 - n° 152

This study provides a review of the concept of family ties. It then measures family ties in an unprecedentedly all-encompassing way, accounting for the individual 
eterogeneity (by context, gender, education and age) that may affect them, looking at the patterns of variation among the different dimensions. Indeed, a large number of indicators have been used in the literature to measure family ties, but the inter-relation among their dimensions has rarely been explicitly taken into account. Furthermore, family ties have been assumed to be invariant among different individuals, without any formal test of this assumption. The analysis is based on Italian National Statistical Office (ISTAT) survey on family and social subjects (FFS 2016) on 24,753 individuals. A Structural Equation Model (SEM) is used to measure the different family tie dimensions and to test their invariance by individual characteristics. The results bring out seven dimensions of family ties. These dimensions are invariant by context and gender, but not by education and age. These findings offer a clear picture of the concept of family ties and show how this concept is differently perceived on the basis of some ascribed and some acquired personal characteristics.

Giorgio Piccitto, Arnstein Aassve, Letizia Mencarini
Keywords: family ties, inter-generational relations, education, gender


2021 - n° 145
The mounting evidence on the demographics of COVID-19 fatalities points to an overrepresentation of minorities and an underrepresentation of women. Using individual-level, race-disaggregated, and georeferenced death data collected by the Cook County Medical Examiner, we jointly investigate the racial and gendered impact of COVID-19, its timing, and its determinants. Through an event study approach we establish that Blacks individuals are affected earlier and more harshly and that the effect is driven by Black women. Rather than comorbidity or aging, the Black female bias is associated with poverty and channeled by occupational segregation in the health care and transportation sectors and by commuting on public transport. Living arrangements and lack of health insurance are instead found uninfluential. The Black female bias is spatially concentrated in neighborhoods that were subject to historical redlining.
Graziella Bertocchi, Arcangelo Dimico
Keywords: COVID-19,deaths,race,gender,occupations,transport,redlining,Cook County,Chicago
2021 - n° 144
Gender norms, i.e. the role of men and women in the society, are a fundamental channel through which culture may influence preferences for redistribution and public policies. We consider both cross-country and individual level evidence on this mechanism. We find that in countries that are historically more gender-equal the tax system today is more redistributive. At the individual level, we find that in more gender equal countries gender differences in redistributive preferences are significantly larger. This effect is driven by women becoming systematically more favorable to redistribution, while there are no significant changes for men. Interestingly, there is no gender-based difference in preferences for redistribution among left-leaning citizens, while this difference is significant among moderates in the expected direction: ideologically moderate women are more favorable to redistribution than moderate men, and this effect is even stronger among right-leaning individuals.
Monica Bozzano, Paola Profeta, Riccardo Puglisi, Simona Scabrosetti
Keywords: gender inequality,comparative public finance,tax mix,institutions,historical origins


2020 - n° 142
We develop a statistical discrimination model where groups of workers (males-females) differ in the observability of their productivity signals by the evaluation committee. We assume that the informativeness of the productivity signals depends on the match between the potential worker and the interviewer: when both parties have similar backgrounds, the signal is likely to be more informative. Under this “homo-accuracy” bias, the group that is most represented in the evaluation committee generates more accurate signals, and, consequently, has a greater incentive to invest in human capital. This generates a discrimination trap. If, for some exogenous reason, one group is initially poorly evaluated (less represented into the evaluation committee), this translates into lower investment in human capital of individuals of such group, which leads to lower representation in the evaluation committee in the future, generating a persistent discrimination process. We explore this dynamic process and show that quotas may be effective to deal with this discrimination trap. In particular, we show that introducing a “temporary” quota allows to reach a steady state equilibrium with a higher welfare than the one obtained in the decentralized equilibrium in which talented workers of the discriminated group decide not to invest in human capital. Finally, if the discriminated group is underrepresented in the worker population (race), restoring efficiency requires to implement a “permanent” system of quotas.
J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz , Juan José Ganuza, Paola Profeta
2020 - n° 137
Does removing the constraints of time and place of work increase the utility of workers and firms? We design a randomized experiment on a sample of workers in a large Italian company: workers are randomly divided into a treated group that engages in flexible space and time job (which we call “smart-working”) one day per week for 9 months and a control group that continues to work traditionally. By comparing the treated and control workers, we find causal evidence that the flexibility of smart-working increases the productivity of workers and improves their well-being and work-life balance. We also observe that the effects are stronger for women and that there are no significant spillover effects within workers of a team.
Marta Angelici , Paola Profeta,


2019 - n° 133
Does the gender of the mayor affect the size and composition of public expenditures and revenues? Do male and female mayors react differently to fiscal adjustments? Using a fuzzy regression discontinuity design in close mixed gender races for the election of mayors in Italian municipalities in the period 2000-2015, we find that female mayors collect more revenues and spend more than male ones, both in the current and capital account. When constrained to fiscal adjustments by the central government, in a fuzzy difference-in-discontinuities design we find that female mayors reduce expenditures more than men.
Alessandra Casarico, Salvatore Lattanzio, Paola Profeta
Keywords: Gender,Municipal government,Fiscal adjustment
2019 - n° 132
This chapter reviews the growing body of research in economics which concentrates on the education gender gap and its evolution, over time and across countries. The survey first focuses on gender differentials in the historical period that roughly goes from 1850 to the 1940s and documents the deep determinants of the early phase of female education expansion, including preindustrial conditions, religion, and family and kinship patterns. Next, the survey describes the stylized facts of contemporaneous gender gaps in education, from the 1950s to the present day, accounting for several alternative measures of attainment and achievement and for geographic and temporal differentiations. The determinants of the gaps are then summarized, while keeping a strong emphasis on an historical perspective and disentangling factors related to the labor market, family formation, psychological elements, and societal cultural norms. A discussion follows of the implications of the education gender gap for multiple realms, from economic growth to family life, taking into account the potential for reverse causation. Special attention is devoted to the persistency of gender gaps in the STEM and economics fields.
Graziella Bertocchi, Monica Bozzano
2019 - n° 131
For a sample of Central and Eastern European countries, characterized by historically high female labor force participation and currently low fertility rates, we analyze whether fathers’ increased involvement in the family (housework and childcare) has the potential of increasing both fertility and maternal employment. Using two waves of the Generations and Gender Survey, we show that a higher fathers’ involvement in the family increases the subsequent likelihood that the mother has a second child and works full-time. Men’s fertility and work decisions are instead unrelated to mothers’ housework and childcare. We also show that fathers’ involvement in housework plays a more important role than involvement in childcare. The role of fathers’ involvement in housework is confirmed when we consider women who initially wanted or intended to have a child, women whose partner also wanted a child or women who intended to continue working.
Ester Fanelli, Paola Profeta
Keywords: Gender revolution,demographic trends,working mothers,gender roles,fertility
2019 - n° 121
Proportional electoral rules favour the election of women with respect to majoritarian ones. This is consistent with the fact that in majoritarian systems personal exposure of the candidate is more relevant than in proportional systems and that women tend to be averse to such exposure. To test the effects of electoral rules on women’s representation and the quality of politicians, we collect panel data on the universe of Italian politicians from all levels of government over the period 1987-2013 and analyse an Italian reform which, in 2005, changed the electoral rule for national elections from (mostly) majoritarian to proportional, but did not affect subnational level elections. We find that this reform increased the number of women elected, while not decreasing the quality of politicians. We provide evidence of a negative selection effect under proportional rules: the elected women are not the best candidates and the quality of elected politicians could have increased (rather than remain constant) if the best female candidates had been elected. Our results are stronger in gender traditional regions, suggesting that culture matters in terms of how electoral rules affect female political representation.
Paola Profeta, Eleanor Woodhouse.
Keywords: Electoral reforms,Majoritarian,Proportional,Electoral Competition,Political Selection,Difference-in-Differences.


2016 - n° 94
In this study we review the literature on the origins and implications of family structure in historical perspective with a focus on Italian provinces. Furthermore we present newly- collected data on three of the main features of family structure: female mean age at marriage, the female celibacy rate, and the fraction of illegitimate births. The data are collected at the provincial level for 1871, the year of Italy's political unification. The analysis of the data allows us to confirm and quantify the geographic differentiation in family patterns across the country. We also illustrate the links between family structure and a set of socio-economic outcomes, in the short, medium, and long run.
Graziella Bertocchi, Monica Bozzano
Keywords: Family structure,Italian provinces,institutions,culture,development
2016 - n° 92
In 2011, Italy introduced board gender quotas in listed companies. Comparing within firms before-after reform changes, we document that quotas are associated with a higher share of female board directors, with higher levels of education of board members and a lower share of elderly members. We then use the reform period as an instrument for the share of female directors and find no significant impact on firms’ performance. Interestingly, we find that the share of female directors is associated to a lower variability of stock market prices. We also run event studies on the stock price reaction to the introduction of gender quotas. A positive effect of the quota law on stock market returns emerges at the date of board’s election. Our results are consistent with gender quotas inducing a beneficial renovation of the board, which is positively received by the market.
Giulia Ferrari, Valeria Ferraro, Paola Profeta, Chiara Pronzato
Keywords: education,age,. financial markets
2016 - n° 91
We theoretically show that when mothers need to buy childcare services not only if they work but also if they want to search actively for a job, a reduction in the price of childcare will increase their likelihood of searching but may decrease their willingness to accept a job offer and therefore lower employment. We test these predictions empirically by means of a Regression Discontinuity design and find that the introduction in Italy of pre-kindergarten, a much cheaper alternative to day care for 2-year-old children, increased both participation in the labour market and employment of mothers of eligible children. This effect was driven largely by a significant decrease in the stated reservation wage. For a full evaluation of the policy we finally provide evidence that pre-kindergarten did not affect children’s cognitive development as measured at second grade.
Francesca Carta, Lucia Rizzica
Keywords: child care,female labour supply,public services
2016 - n° 89
This paper investigates the extent to which attitudes are affected by political regimes and government policies. We focus on female attitudes toward work and gender-role attitudes in the population at large, which have been shown to have significant effects on labor market outcomes. We exploit the imposition of state-socialist regimes across Central and Eastern Europe, and their efforts to promote women’s economic inclusion, for both instrumental and ideological reasons, presenting evidence from two different datasets. First, we take advantage of the German partition into East and West after 1945 and unique access to restricted information on place of residence to implement a spatial regression discontinuity design. We find more positive attitudes toward work in the sample of East German women. We also find evidence that increased female access to higher education and fulltime employment, arguably two of the very few positive aspects of living under state-socialism, may have served as channels for regime influence. Second, we employ a difference-in-differences strategy that compares attitudes formed in Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) and Western European Countries (WECs), before and after the imposition of state socialism in CEECs. Gender-role attitudes formed in CEECs during the state socialist period appear to be significantly less traditional than those formed in WECs.
Pamela Campa, Michel Serafinelli
Keywords: gender-role attitudes,state-socialism,Central and Eastern Europe


2015 - n° 78
In this paper we use a newly constructed dataset following 30,000 Italian individuals from high school to labor market and we analyze whether the gender composition of peers in high school affected their choice of college major, their academic performance and their labor market income. We leverage the fact that the composition of high school classmates (peers), within school-cohort and teacher-group, was not chosen by the students and it was as good as random. We find that male students graduating from classes with at least 80% of male peers were more likely to choose “prevalently male” (PM) college majors (Economics, Business and Engineering). However, this higher propensity to enroll in PM majors faded away during college (through transfers and attrition) so that men from classes with at least 80% of male peers in high school did not have higher probability of graduating in PM majors. They had instead worse college performance and did not exhibit any difference in income or labor market outcomes after college. We do not find significant effects on women.
Massimo Anelli, Giovanni Peri
Keywords: peer effects,high school,gender,choice of college major,academic performance,wages
2015 - n° 75
ABSTRACT We investigate the effect of providing information about the benefits to children of attending formal child care when women intend to use formal child care so they can work. We postulate that the reaction to the information differs across women according to their characteristics, specifically their level of education. We present a randomized experiment in which 700 Italian women of reproductive age with no children are exposed to positive information about formal child care through a text message or a video, while others are not. We find a positive effect on the intention to use formal child care, and a negative effect on the intention to work. This average result hides important heterogeneities: the positive effect on formal child care use is driven by better-educated women, while the negative effect on work intention is found only among less-educated women. These findings may be explained by women’s education reflecting their work-family orientation, and their ability to afford formal child care.
Vincenzo Galasso, Paola Profeta, Chiara Pronzato, Francesco Billari
Keywords: female labour supply,education,gender roles