Research and other activities

We invite you to learn about our research in the area of Gender Economics and other related works: books, articles, working papers and dissemination notes, as well as projects, courses, seminars, conferences and workshops in which GenLAC-CEDLAS participates.

Publications

Books and book chapters

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Abstract
In Latin American, women participate less in the labor market than men, they are more likely to be employed in informal or part-time jobs with lower productivity and lower pay, and are underrepresented in managerial and executive positions. These gender gaps persist despite the progress made over the last 50 years, are larger in the region than in the developed world, and mainly arise from distortions that limit or negatively affect the decisions on the formation of human capital, family, and employment throughout the life-cycle. Therefore, targeted public policies are needed to tackle the barriers that limit the participation and progress of women in the job market. Achieving greater gender equality in Latin America is necessary for equity reasons, but it is also necessary for efficiency reasons. The reasons that justify the choice of the three areas covered by this study are discussed below. At the end of the study, the main messages of the diagnosis are exposed and the challenges for the policy agenda are highlighted.

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Abstract
The aim of the work is to shed light on the factors that affect female labor participation (PLF) in Latin America, taking as the focus of analysis the comparison between Mexico and Peru, two countries that present several similarities, however, they are very different in terms of the levels of labor participation of women. This comparative analysis seeks to better understand the factors that are associated with higher rates of female participation and employment in the region, as a diagnostic tool to guide the design of public policies that promote female employment and gender equality. The analysis is based on microdata from household surveys of Mexico and Peru for the period 1998-2014.

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Abstract
The book “Bridging gender gaps? The rise and deceleration of female labor force participation in Latin America” shows that since the early 2000s women’s entry into labor markets in Latin America has shown signs of widespread and significant deceleration.
While female labor participation rose rapidly over the 1990s, the rate of increase fell to one-third in the following decade, and even stopped in some countries.
What caused this deceleration?
What are its implications?
Who has been most affected?

Papers

Link to the working paper version

Abstract
We estimate the short- and long-run labor market impacts of parenthood in adeveloping country, Chile, based on an event-study approach around the birthof the first child. We find that becoming a mother implies a sharp decline inemployment, working hours, and labor earnings, while fathers’ outcomesremain unaffected. Importantly, the birth of the first child also produces astrong increase in labor informality among working mothers (38%). All theseimpacts are milder for highly educated women. We assess mechanismsbehind these effects based on a model economy and find that: (i) informaljobs’ flexible working hours prevent some women from leaving the labormarket upon motherhood, (ii) improving the quality of social protection offormal jobs tempers this increase in informality. Our results suggest thatmothers find in informal jobs the flexibility needed for family-work balance,although it comes at the cost of deteriorating their labor market prospects.

Link to the working paper version

Abstract
Income transfers from social programs are often not gender neutral andshould, according to the vast literature on intra-household decision makingand allocation, affect the distribution of bargaining power within thehousehold. This result, however, was by and large established under theassumption of marriage stability. If this assumption does not hold (because ofdivorce or separation), then the positive response of bargaining power toincome found in the empirical research may be the artifact of sampleselection. In this paper we prove that the marriage stability assumption iswrong, even when applied to seniors. We use a non-contributory pensionreform in Argentina, that resulted in an unexpected and substantial increase inpermanent income for at least 1.8 million women, to study its effects onoutcomes related to both marital stability and women’s bargaining powerwithin the household. We find that the reform increased the probability ofdivorce/separation among senior highly educated women but had no impacton the loweducated. Instead, the latter gained considerable bargaining powerwithin the household by decreasing the probability of being the only one incharge of household chores in tandem with an increase in their husbands’participation in these chores.

Link to the working paper version

Abstract
We study the behavior of female labor force participation (LFP) over the business cycle by estimating fixed effects models at the country and population-group level, using data from harmonized national household surveys of 18 Latin American countries in the period 1987–2014. We find that female LFP follows a countercyclical pattern—especially in the case of married, with children and vulnerable women—which suggests the existence of an inverse added-worker effect. We argue that this factor may have contributed to the deceleration in female labor supply in Latin America that took place in the 2000s, a decade of unusual high economic growth.

Link to the working paper version

Abstract
After half a century of sustained growth, female labor force participation has decelerated in Latin America, especially among married vulnerable women. Based on a large database of microdata from household surveys, this paper documents this recent deceleration and provides evidence on the determinants. We argue that the fast economic growth experienced by the region in the 2000s was an important driving force: lower unemployment and higher earnings of male partners plus increased social assistance may have reduced the pressing need for vulnerable women to take low-quality jobs.

Link to the working paper version

Abstract
In this paper, we estimate the impact on female labor force participation of a massive conditional cash transfer program—Universal Child Allowance, AUH—launched in Argentina in 2009. We identify the intention-to-treat effect by comparing eligible and non-eligible women over time through a diff-in-diff methodology. The results suggest a negative and economically significant effect of the program on female labor force participation. The disincentive to participate is present for married women, while the effect is not statistically significant for unmarried women with children. We also find evidence on the heterogeneity of the effect depending on woman’s education, husband’s employment status, number and age of children, and whether the woman is the main responsible of domestic chores. The relatively large value of the benefit and the fact that transfers are mostly directed to mothers may explain the sizeable effect of the program on female labor supply. The welfare implications of the results are not clear and deserve further inspection.

Link to the working paper version

Abstract
In 2009 Argentina introduced a large poverty-alleviation program (AUH) that provides monthly cash transfers per child to households without workers in the formal sector. In this paper we study the potential unintended effect of this program on fertility. We apply a difference-in-difference strategy comparing the probability of having a new child among eligible and ineligible mothers both before and after the program inception. The intention to treat estimations suggest a significant positive impact on fertility in households with at least one child (around 2 percentage points), but no significant effect on childless households. Given the short time window since the implementation of the AUH, we are unable to identify whether this positive effect reflects changes in the timing of births or in the equilibrium number of children.

Link to the working paper version

Abstract
Fertility rates significantly fell over the last decades in Latin America. In order to assess the extent to which these changes contributed to the observed reduction in income poverty and inequality, we apply microeconometric decomposition to microdata from national household surveys from seven Latin American countries. We find that changes in fertility rates were associated with a nonnegligible reduction in inequality and poverty in the region. The main channel was straightforward: lower fertility implied smaller families and hence larger per capita incomes. Lower fertility also fostered labor force participation, especially among women, which contributed to the reduction of poverty and inequality in most countries, although the size of this effect was smaller.

Abstract
Grandparents are an important source of childcare, in particular when access to formal childcare services is not guaranteed. In this paper, we explore whether employment decisions of mothers of young children are affected by the availability of grandmothers for childcare in Argentina. To overcome the usual identification problem, we exploit a change in retirement requirements introduced in the mid-2000s that induced an arguably exogenous variation in grandmothers’ time constraint. The main results show that working-age mothers co-residing with their retirement-eligible mother or mother-in-law are more likely to participate in the labor market and to be employed. We ask whether this is a time effect or an income effect and find suggestive evidence that the main underlying mechanism is an increase in grandmother’s time. Finally, we also find no evidence that the policy affected fertility or household composition.

Link to the working paper version

Abstract
We study the causal effect of motherhood on labour market outcomes in Latin America by adopting an event study approach around the birth of the first child based on panel data from national household surveys for Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. Our main contributions are: (i) providing new and comparable evidence on the effects of motherhood on labour outcomes in developing countries; (ii) exploring the possible mechanisms driving these outcomes; (iii) discussing the potential links between child penalty and the prevailing gender norms and family policies in the region. We find that motherhood reduces women’s labour supply in the extensive and intensive margins and influences female occupational structure towards flexible occupations— part-time work, self-employment, and labour informality—needed for family–work balance. Furthermore, countries with more conservative gender norms and less generous family policies are associated with larger differences between mothers’ and non-mothers’ labour market outcomes.

Link to the working paper version

Abstract
In this paper we analyze the impact of Venezuelan migration on the female labor supply in Colombia. Using a instrumental variable approach we found significant drops in the female labor supply, mainly on those women with lower qualifications. In contrast, we observe significant increases for high-skilled women with family responsibilities, such as childcare. These results are consistent with a redistribution of time use, where women spend fewer hours on household tasks and more time in the labor market. Our results provide novel evidence of the consequences of forced migration between developing countries on the female labor supply.

Link to the working paper version

Abstract: In this paper we assess whether changes in labor market decisions upon motherhood lead to potential inefficient allocations of talent. Using an event study approach with retrospective data drawn from SHARE for 29 European countries we show that motherhood effects go beyond the well studied effects of labor market participation decisions: the arrival of the first child substantially affects the uptaking of alternative modes of employment, such as part-time and self-employment, that are characterized by flexible or reduced work schedules but also lower pay on average. We also show that the size of labor market responses to motherhood are larger in societies with more conservative social-norms or with weak policies regarding work-life balance. To assess the effects of motherhood over the allocation of talent, we explore how labor market responses to parenthood vary by alternative measures of talent or ability. We find that all women, even those with the highest level of ability and abler than their husbands face large motherhood effects, while men show virtually no changes in the labor market when becoming fathers. We also find that mothers who become self-employed after the birth of the first child are those that are less entrepreneurial-able according to cognitive ability and personality traits shown to impair business survival. Overall, our results suggest relevant changes in the allocation of talent caused by gender differences in nonmarket responsibilities that can have sizable impacts on aggregate market productivity.

Link to the working paper version

Abstract
This paper estimates the effects of a childbirth grant policy introduced in Armenia in 2009 in response to low fertility rates. We employ a quasi-experimental strategy exploiting the timing of the policy change and eligibility rule—women could get a larger transfer only for third and higher order births. We find an overall positive impact of the policy on the fertility of women who already had two births and we do not find heterogeneity in response to the policy by wealth, schooling or residence in rural versus urban area. While Armenia has one of the highest sex imbalances at birth, we do not find that additional newborns are significantly more likely to be male. We do find, however, that parents without any son are more likely to have an additional birth after the policy change in comparison to parents who already have at least one son.

Blog and media posts

Other activities

Research projects

A project presented by Inés Berniell, Joaquín Coleff, Margarita Machelett, Mariana Marchionni, and María Florencia Pinto, was selected and financed by the IADB (Inter-American Development Bank) with the aim of providing evidence about rental market discrimination against gay and transgender individuals in Latin America.

A PICT grant was awarded to the project “Gender gaps and the motherhood effect in Latin American labor markets”, and GenLAC is part of this project

PICT Code: 2019-00510.

Principal Investigator: Mariana Marchionni; Researchers: Inés Berniell, Leonardo Gasparini and Santiago Garganta; Collaborators: Jessica Bracco, Matías Ciaschi and Ana Pacheco.

· Link

A project presented by Inés Berniell, Lucila Berniell, Dolores de la Mata, María Edo and Mariana Marchionni (PI), was selected and financed by UNU-WIDER (United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research) with in aim to provide evidence for the UNU-WIDER project “Women’s work: routes to economic and social empowerment”.

· February 2021: The paper was published in the UNU-WIDER working document series.
Link al Documento de Trabajo (WIDER)

· December 2020: The team presented this paper in the workshop “UNU-WIDER Women’s Work”
Link to the workshop

Courses, seminars, conferences and workshops

Course on Gender Economics. Master in Economics, FCE-UNLP.

Inés Berniell teaches this course every year in the Master in Economics at the FCE-UNLP. Gender Economics uses the theoretical framework and statistical tools of Economics to describe and understand the differences between men and women in key economic variables such as labor participation, wages, income, hours of work, occupation, poverty rates, leisure time, among other well-being measures. The course offers an overview of the current state of the literature on gender gaps, with a focus on the labor markets. In each class, there are deep discussions of the frontier research on the different dimensions of gender gaps and the factors that generate them, as well as about the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of several policies designed to reduce these gaps. The course emphasizes the interaction between economic theory and its empirical modeling.

Link where you can find more information about this course and the FCE-UNLP Master in Economics: https://www.me.econo.unlp.edu.ar/wp/

Highlights