Economic Freedom and Gender Norms

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Economic Freedom and Gender Norms

In countries with higher levels of economic freedom, people are less likely to subscribe to social norms that prioritize men over women in education, the labour force and political leadership.

In more economically free jurisdictions, the government permits individuals to make more of their own economic decisions—what to buy, what to sell, where to work, how to run a business, and so on—whereas in less economically free jurisdictions, politicians, bureaucrats, and regulators make more of these decisions.

This study uses data from the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World Index. The index assesses economic freedom through 45 indicators gathered from each of 165 jurisdictions worldwide. Comparing this data with the World Values Survey, this study finds that social norms concerning whether men should take priority when it comes to jobs, political leadership roles, and university enrollment are less likely to show a male bias in societies that are economically free.

Specifically, in countries with greater levels of economic freedom, people are less likely to agree with the following three statements:

  1. "When jobs are scarce, men have more right to a job than women."
  2. "Men make better political leaders than women do."
  3. "University is more important for a man than a woman."

These results hold even when the measure of economic freedom is lagged by five and 10 years. Overall, this analysis provides empirical support for the doux commerce thesis.

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