Cornell University

Behavioral Economics Workshop: Leo Bursztyn

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 11:40am to 1:10pm

Sage Hall, 141
Johnson Graduate School-Management, 106 Sage Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-6201, USA

Leo Bursztyn (University of Chicago)

Misperceived Social Norms: Female Labor Force Participation in Saudi Arabia
 Leonardo Bursztyny, Alessandra L. Gonzalezz, David Yanagizawa-Drottx

Abstract: Through the custom of guardianship, husbands typically have the fi nal word on their wives' labor supply decisions in Saudi Arabia, a country with very low female labor force participation (FLFP). We provide incentivized evidence (both from an experimental sample in Riyadh and from a national sample) that the vast majority of young married men in Saudi Arabia privately support FLFP outside of home from a normative perspective, while they substantially underestimate the level of support for FLFP by other similar men { even men from their same social setting, such as their neighbors. We then show that randomly correcting these beliefs about others increases married men's willingness to let their wives join the labor force (as measured by their costly sign-up for a job-matching service for their wives). Finally, we fi nd that this decision maps onto real outcomes: four months after the main intervention, the wives of men in our original sample whose beliefs about acceptability of FLFP were corrected are more likely to have applied and interviewed for a job outside of home. Together, our evidence indicates a potentially important source of labor market frictions, where job search is underprovided due to misperceived social norms.

Event Type

Conference/Workshop, Seminar




economics, EconSeminar, EconBehave



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Heather LaCombe

Contact Phone



Leo Bursztyn (University of Chicago)

Speaker Affiliation

University of Chicago

Dept. Web Site

Open To

Cornell Economics Community (List Serve Members)

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