Gender, Work, and Attitudes

University dissertation from University of Gothenburg

Abstract: Paper 1: The long term effect of own and spousal parental leave on mothers’ earnings We take advantage of the introduction of a Norwegian parental leave reform in 1993 to identify the causal effect of parental leave on mothers’ long-term earnings. The reform raised the total leave period by seven weeks, but reserved four weeks for the father. The reform process was fast, so all mothers were already pregnant at the time of the policy announcement. Applying a regression discontinuity design we find that women who had their last child immediately after the policy change had higher mean yearly earnings from 1995 to 2005 and long-run yearly earnings (in our last year of data in 2005) compared to women who had their last child immediately before the reform. However, the estimate is sensitive to extreme observations, to restrictions regarding eligibility, and to the exclusion of observations within a window of three days before and after the reform. Paper 2: Do laws affect attitudes? An assessment of the Norwegian prostitution law using longitudinal data (Forthcoming in International Review of Law and Economics) The question of whether laws affect attitudes has inspired scholars across many disciplines, but empirical knowledge is sparse. Using longitudinal survey data from Norway and Sweden, collected before and after the implementation of a Norwegian law criminalizing the purchase of sexual services, we assess the short-run effects on attitudes using a difference-indifferences approach. In the general population, the law did not affect moral attitudes toward prostitution. However, in the Norwegian capital, where prostitution was more visible before the reform, the law made people more negative toward buying sex. This supports the claim that proximity and visibility are important factors for the internalization of legal norms. Paper 3: Does informal eldercare impede women’s employment? The case of European welfare states (Forthcoming in Feminist Economics) European states vary in eldercare policies and in gendered norms of family care, and this study uses these variations to gain insight into the importance of macro-level factors for the work–care relationship. Using advanced panel data methods on European Community Household Panel (ECHP) data, this study finds women’s employment to be negatively associated with informal caregiving to the elderly across the European Union. The effects of informal caregiving seem to be more negative in the Southern European countries, less negative in the Nordic countries, and in between these extremes in the Central European countries included in the study. This study explains that since eldercare is a choice in countries with more formal care and less pronounced gendered care norms, the weaker impact of eldercare on women’s employment in these countries has to do with the degree of degree of coercion in the caring decision. Paper 4: The employment costs of caregiving in Norway Informal eldercare is an important pillar of modern welfare states and the ongoing demographic transition increases the demand for it while social trends reduce the supply. Substantial opportunity costs of informal eldercare in terms of forgone labor opportunities have been identified, yet the effects seem to differ substantially across states and there is a controversy on the effects in the Nordic welfare states. In this study, the effects of informal care on the probability of being employed, the number of hours worked, and wages in Norway are analyzed using data from the Life cOurse, Generation, and Gender (LOGG) survey. New and previously suggested instrumental variables are used to control for the potential endogeneity existing between informal care and employment-related outcomes. In total, being an informal caregiver in Norway is found to entail substantially less costs in terms of forgone formal employment opportunities than in non-Nordic welfare states.

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