Ekaterina Zhuravskaya , Paris School of Economics

"Diffusion of Gender Norms: Evidence from Stalin’s Ethnic Deportations"


We study horizontal between-group cultural transmission using a unique historical experiment. During WWII, Stalin deported over 2 million people—mostly Germans and Chechens—to Siberia and Central Asia solely based on their ethnicity. As a result, the native population of the deportation destinations was exogenously exposed to groups with drastically different gender norms and behavior. We combine historical archival data with contemporary census, survey, and enterprise data to document that: first, there are no systematic differences in female labor force participation and education among deportation locations prior to deportations. Second, gender equality in contemporary labor force participation, leadership in business, and fertility is higher in deportation destinations with a larger presence of Protestant compared to Muslim deportees. Contemporary attitudes toward the role of women among native groups and education follow the same pattern. These effects cannot be fully explained either by vertical cultural transmission as they hold for the native groups in the deportation locations, or by differential economic conditions, which do not vary enough with the group composition of deportees. Instead, the evidence strongly suggests that gender norms diffused horizontally from deportees to the local population, affecting attitudes and behavior.

Joint ith Antonela Miho, and Alexandra Jarotschkin

Contact person: Pablo Selaya