The gender gap in labour-force participation rates is still not closing up. Among other factors, cultural aspects may play a role. This column describes an experimental study, conducted with women from Italy, on the benefits of formal childcare on outcomes of children. Highly educated women are positively affected by the information about formal childcare. Low-educated mothers, however, do not increase their use of childcare facilities, or their labour supply.
There is a large and growing literature on peer effects, but much less is known about the role of friendships and social relationships in student outcomes. The best evidence on the mechanisms behind aggregate peer effects suggests an important role for discipline and disruption. Very recent research suggests that friends can also have a substantial effect on student outcomes, and in many cases the effect of friends appears to be independent of aggregate peer effects.
The perceived tone of a product or political advertisement affects public response – even holding constant the content of the message. This column provides evidence that men and women react differently to positive and negative tones in electoral advertisements. Negative advertising increases voter turnout among men but not women; positive advertising tends to win women’s sympathy but alienates men. This should inform gender-specific tailoring of targeted advertisements.
Elderly people assisted by immigrant carers, rather than by their sons and daughters, has become a common feature of many European countries. This column presents evidence from Italy suggesting that the immigrant presence in the home-care sector has allowed women, especially those with elderly parents, to retire from their jobs later. Increasing the retirement age has to happen over the coming decades to ensure the sustainability of developed countries’ pension systems.
Reducing gender inequity will require a wide range of policies. This column describes a framework for quantifying the growth effects of gender policies in developing economies and, by applying an overlapping generations model to Brazil, shows that gender policy is likely to produce tangible economic results, but only in the long term.
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