Do women prefer large government?

The increase in income per capita is accompanied, in virtually all countries, by two changes in economic structure: the increase in the share of government spending in gross domestic product (GDP), and the increase in female labor force participation. We argue that these two changes are causally related. We develop a growth model based on Galor and Weil (1996) where female participation in market activities, fertility, and government size, in addition to consumption and saving, is endogenously determined. Rising incomes lead to a rise in female labor force participation as the opportunity cost of staying at home and caring for the children increases. In our model, higher government spending decreases the cost of performing household chores, including, but not limited to, child rearing and child care, as in Rosen (1996). We also use a wide cross-section of data for developed and developing countries and show that higher market participation by women is positively and robustly associated with government size. We then investigate the causal link between participation and government size using a novel unique data set that allows the use of the relative price of productive home appliances as an instrumental variable. We find strong evidence of a causal link between female market participation and government size. This effect is robust to the country sample, time period, and a set of controls in the spirit of Rodrik (1998). (JEL O4, E62, H11)


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