Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

Do historical agro-ecological factors shape current attitudes towards women’s rights and abilities?

  • Article
  • Published:
Indian Economic Review Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

A growing strand of literature documents how historical agricultural and ecological factors continue to determine women’s role and well-being in society through cultural transmission even today. Studies have shown that such factors are significantly associated with perceptions regarding women’s right to jobs and their abilities as political leaders. However, scant attention has been paid to women’s ability as business executives and their democratic rights. Using individual-level observations from multiple waves of the World Values Survey, this paper investigates whether these historical and ecological factors can explain perceptions regarding women’s democratic rights and their ability as business executives. Overall, our findings support the existing literature and show that historical agricultural and ecological factors (ancestral plough use, Neolithic transition, and ancestral resource endowments) have a much broader impact on women’s rights and abilities in diverse contexts, including the labor force, business, and politics. Given the robustness of this phenomenon, it calls for broad affirmative action favoring women in different social spheres.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. To be consistent, all our explanatory variables of interest, that is, ancestral plough use, years since transition to agriculture, and ancestral ecological endowments, are measured at the country level. Alesina et al. (2013a) use district-level plough use, while the 'years since transition to agriculture’ variable utilized by Hansen et al. (2015) does not vary at the district level. On the other hand, Hazarika et al. (2019b) do not use the WVS but rely on Indian district analysis for sub-national analysis.

  2. https://gaez.fao.org/

  3. As in Alesina et al. (2018), we drop “neither” responses, since it is not clear whether the respondent holds the intermediate view or simply choses not to answer the question or does not know the answer.

  4. The exact survey question is as follows. “Please tell me for each of the following things how essential you think it is as a characteristic of democracy. Use this scale where 1 means “not at all an essential characteristic of democracy” and 10 means it definitely is “an essential characteristic of democracy”—Women have the same rights as men”.

  5. The ISCED classification is as follows. Early childhood education (ISCED 0)/no education; Primary education (ISCED 1); Lower secondary education (ISCED 2); Upper secondary education (ISCED 3); Post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED 4); Short-cycle tertiary education (ISCED 5); Bachelor or equivalent (ISCED 6); Master or equivalent (ISCED 7); Doctoral or equivalent (ISCED 8). The lower level of education consists of ISCED 0, ISCED 1, and ISCED 2; the middle level of education includes ISCED 3, ISCED 4, and ISCED 5, ISCED 6, ISCED 7, and ISCED 8 make up the higher level of education.

  6. “An international dollar has the same purchasing power over GDP as the U.S. dollar has in the United States”.

  7. Results are available from the authors on request.

  8. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.CACT.FE.ZS (accessed: January 11,2023).

  9. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SG.GEN.PARL.ZS (accessed: January 11,2023).

References

  • Aizer, A. (2010). The gender wage gap and domestic violence. American Economic Review, 100, 1847–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alesina, A., Giuliano, P., & Nunn, Na. (2013). On the origins of gender roles: Women and the plough. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 128, 469–530.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alesina, A., Giuliano, P., & Nunn, N. (2013). Replication data for: On the origins of gender roles: Women and the plough. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 128, 469–530.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alesina, A., Giuliano, P., & Nunn, N. (2018). Traditional agricultural practices and the sex ratio today. PloS One, 13, e0190510.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beaman, L., Chattopadhyay, R., Duflo, E., Pande, R., & Topalova, P. (2009). Powerful women: Does exposure reduce bias? Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124, 1497–1540.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borcan, O., Olsson, O., & Putterman, L. (2021). Transition to agriculture and first state presence: A global analysis. Explorations in Economic History, 82, 101404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Boserup, E. (1970). Woman’s role in economic development. George Allen and Unwin Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  • Diamond, J. (1987). The worst mistake in the history of the human race. Discover, 8, 64–66.

    Google Scholar 

  • Diamond, J. (1997). Guns, germs and steel: The fates of human societies. W. W. Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ember, C.R. (1983). The relative decline in women’s contribution to agriculture with intensification. American Anthropologist, 85, 285–304.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fernandez, R. (2007). Women, work, and culture. Journal of the European Economic Association, 5, 305–332.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fredriksson, P.G., & Gupta, S.K. (2018). The Neolithic revolution and contemporary sex ratios. Economics Letters, 173, 19–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fredriksson, P.G., & Gupta, S.K. (2020). Irrigation and culture: Gender roles and women’s rights. Tech. rep. GLO Discussion Paper.

  • Galor, O., & Özak, Ö. (2016). The agricultural origins of time preference. American Economic Review, 106, 3064–3103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gordon, R. (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world. (Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2005).

  • Hansen, C.W., Jensen, P.S., & Skovsgaard, C.V. (2015). Modern gender roles and agricultural history: The Neolithic inheritance. Journal of Economic Growth, 20, 365–404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hazarika, G., Chandan, K.J., & Sudipta, S. (2019a). “Ancestral ecological endowments and contemporary sex ratios”. Ideas for India, https://www.ideasforindia.in/topics/social-identity/ancestral-ecological-endowmentsand-contemporary-sex-ratios.html Accessed 11 Jan 2023.

  • Hazarika, G., Jha, C.K., & Sarangi, S. (2019). Ancestral ecological endowments and missing women. Journal of Population Economics, 32, 1101–1123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heath, R., & Seema, J. (2017). The causes and consequences of increased female education and labor force participation in developing countries. The Oxford Handbook of Women and the Economy (pp. 345–367). Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Iversen, T., & Frances, M. R. (2010). Women, work, and politics: The political economy of gender inequality. Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jensen, R., & Oster, E. (2009). The power of TV: Cable television and women’s status in India. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124, 1057–1094.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jha, C.K., & Sarangi, S. (2020). Arable land in antiquity explains modern gender inequality. Munich Personal RePEc Archive, Paper No. 104336.

  • Jones, P. D., & Mann, M. E. (2004), Climate over past millennia. Reviews of Geophysics, 42, RG2002. https://doi.org/10.1029/2003RG000143.

  • Putterman, L., Cary A. Trainor (2006). Agricultural transition year country data set. Brown University. https://sites.google.com/brown.edu/louis-putterman/agricultural-transition-data-set.

  • Putterman, L., & Weil, D.N. (2010). Post-1500 population flows and the long-run determinants of economic growth and inequality. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 125, 1627–1682.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • White, D.R., Burton, M.L., & Dow, M.M. (1981). Sexual division of labor in African agriculture: a network autocorrelation analysis. American Anthropologist, 83, 824–849.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

The authors have not disclosed any funding.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chandan Kumar Jha.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors have not disclosed any competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jha, C.K., Sarangi, S. & Tripathi, I. Do historical agro-ecological factors shape current attitudes towards women’s rights and abilities?. Ind. Econ. Rev. 58 (Suppl 1), 87–104 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41775-023-00159-y

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s41775-023-00159-y

Keywords

JEL Classification

Navigation