Men. Roots and Consequences of Masculinity Norms

Victoria Baranov, Ralph de Haas, Pauline Grosjean

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Recent research has uncovered the historical roots of gender norms about women and the persistent effect of such norms on economic development. We find similar long-term effects of masculinity norms: beliefs about the proper conduct of men. We exploit a natural historical experiment in which convict transportation in the 18th and 19th century created a variegated spatial pattern of sex ratios across Australia. We show that in areas that were heavily male-biased in the past (though not the present) more Australians recently voted
against same-sex marriage, an institution at odds with traditional masculinity norms. Survey data show that this voting pattern is mostly driven by men. Further evidence indicates that these historically male-biased areas also remain characterized by more violence, excessive alcohol consumption, and occupational gender segregation. We interpret these behaviors as manifestations of masculinity norms that emerged due to intense local male-male competition and that persisted over time.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherCentER, Center for Economic Research
Number of pages51
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2018

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • masculinity
  • sex ratio
  • natural experiment
  • cultural persistence
  • same-sex marriage


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