Gender equality as a confounder in the epidemiological approach

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A rapidly growing literature uses the epidemiological approach (Fernandez & Fogli, 2009) to explore the impact of "culture" on economic behavior in a wide variety of geographical contexts. To better understand potential threats to identification, we apply the method to a recent European data set. We find that proxies of country-of-origin culture affect second-generation immigrant women`s labor force participation and fertility in Europe. The effect is economically and statistically significant among women descending from countries in which gender equality is relatively high, but it is far less pronounced or absent among women descending from low gender equality countries. These findings suggest that parental selection into migration, as well as intergenerational spillover effects, are important confounders in applications of the epidemiological approach.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEconomics Bulletin
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)1292-1299
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 09.05.2020
Externally publishedYes