Publication : “Turning back the clock: beliefs in gender norms during lockdown”

Publication : “Turning back the clock: beliefs in gender norms during lockdown”

  • Drawing man and womanDrawing man and woman

In this working paper, Anne Boring and Gloria Moroni present a survey conducted in France on a representative sample of 1,000 individuals to study the impact of the first lockdown on beliefs regarding gender norms. They found evidence that the lockdown is associated with a shift towards more traditional beliefs in gender norms. Men with young children in particular were more likely to increase their beliefs towards less equal gender norms during lockdown. The analysis finds evidence that is consistent with a “conservative shift” hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, increased economic uncertainty leads to an increase in support for political conservatism. The authors find that men in low income households and men with a low level of education were more likely to change their beliefs towards less equal gender norms during lockdown. Overall, these results suggest that there is no ratchet effect regarding beliefs in gender norms: individuals can revert to more traditional beliefs regarding gender roles (when they lose the ability to outsource household production or when there is less financial stability for instance). These results have important policy implications. First, when governments implement strong stay at home orders (as during the first lockdown in France), they may reinforce beliefs towards less equal gender norms. Second, given that the individuals who face economic uncertainty are more likely to increase their beliefs in unequal gender norms, increasing support for gender equality may rely on reducing economic uncertainty and inequalities.

Correlation between gender equality norms and maternal employment rates, OECD countries

This figure shows a negative correlation between the percentage of individuals in a country who believe in traditional gender roles and the share of mothers who work while having young children.

Figure 3, Boring & Moroni (2021)

Note: This figure shows a negative correlation between the percentage of individuals in a country who believe in traditional gender roles and the share of mothers who work while having young children.
 
Changes in beliefs in gender norms in France, between 1990 and 2020 

this figure shows a decrease in the share of individuals who believe in traditional gender roles in France from 1990 to 2018, and an increase during the first lockdown period.

Figure 4, Boring & Moroni (2021)

Note: this figure shows a decrease in the share of individuals who believe in traditional gender roles in France from 1990 to 2018, and an increase during the first lockdown period.

An article published in The Economist mentions these findings

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