Endogenous Gender Norms: Evidence from Africa's Gold Mining Industry

Anja Tolonen


Does industrial development change gender norms? This is the first paper to causally explore the local effects of a continent-wide exogenous expansion of a modern industry on gender norms. The identification strategy relies on plausibly exogenous temporal and spatial variation in gold mining in Africa. The establishment of an industrial-scale mine changes local gender norms: justification of domestic violence decreases by 19%, women have better access to healthcare, and are 31% more likely to work in the service sector. The effects happen alongside rapid economic growth. The findings are robust to assumptions about trends, distance, and migration, and withstand a spatial randomization test. The results show that entrenched gender norms can change rapidly in the presence of economic development.

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