Social norms, by which I mean societally coordinated beliefs, have gained renewed attention in economics as critical determinants of socioeconomic behavior. Gender norms are no exception and are shown to explain socioeconomic gender gaps. However scarce is the evidence that public policies can alter gender norms and address gender issues. In this research, I examine the impact of women's radio programs that the US-led occupying force aired in Japan (1945-1952) to dismantle the prewar patriarchal norms. Exploiting local variation in radio signal strength driven by soil conditions as an instrumental variable, I provide causal evidence that greater exposure to women's radio programs increase women's electoral turnout, which further translates into a greater vote share for female candidates in districts with greater program exposure relative to those with lower exposure. Moreover, greater exposure to women's radio programs contributes to a decline in fertility and therefore has important implications for women's autonomy over their bodies as well as the nation's demographic landscape. Women's labor force participation and marriage rate remain the same, suggesting that the declining fertility is due neither to an increase in women's career aspirations nor to a decline in marriages. My results are not driven by a preexisting correlation between radio signal strength and women's behavior before the US occupation. My findings provide new evidence that norm-changing interventions through mass media affect their targets' behavior. The results also lend support to contemporary initiatives by the UN, NGOs, and NPOs to use mass media to promote gender equity.
The Consequences of Increased Women's Representation in Politics: Evidence from Japan (2018)
The female share of the Japanese national legislature began trending upwards in the mid-1990s, after 50 years of hovering around three percent. To better understand the consequences of this change, I examine the impact of female office holding on electoral and public policy outcomes in the context of the Japanese House of Representatives in the last two decades (1996-2017). To isolate the causal effect of legislators' gender, I employ a regression discontinuity design in a sample of contests where a female candidate wins or loses against a male candidate by a narrow margin. As opposed to the long-standing argument that female electoral victories lead more women to run for office, an additional female victory does not affect the number of female candidates nor female winners in the next election. This result is consistent with Ferreira & Gyourko's (2014) and Broockman's (2014) findings for US mayoral and state legislative elections. Moreover, to examine whether additional female officeholding affects legislative outcomes, I turn to patterns of petitions signed by each legislator. Unlike roll-call votes, legislators do not necessarily act along party lines when considering petitions. I find that female legislators are more likely to support petitions on subjects supported by women, namely gender issues and reproductive rights. Therefore, as models of identity politics would predict, the presence of female legislators is an important channel through which women express their needs. Furthermore, contrary to a wide-spread concern that women are less qualified as politicians than men, the gender of legislators does not affect the amount of per-capita intra-governmental transfers, which provides one piece of evidence that female legislators are as good as male legislators at serving the interests of their local constituents.
Intrahousehold welfare (2019, with Pierre-André Chiappori and Costas Meghir)
Measuring individual-level well-being is crucial when we think about public policy, and existing literature has shown that substantial inequality is hidden within the household (Lise & Seitz, 2011). Earlier work has addressed such intra-household inequality, but it has yet to account for household public goods when measuring it. To shed light on this issue, we develop a new way to measure intra-household inequality that reflects individual well-being derived from household public goods. Using a collective household model, we defined the Money Metric Welfare Index (MMWI), which is essentially a monetary amount that a person would need to reach the current utility level if she were to pay the full price of household public goods. We show that the MMWI is uniquely identified up to an increasing transformation. Then we structurally estimate the collective household model and compute the MMWI using the Japanese Panel Survey of Consumers (JPSC). The JPSC is particularly suitable for our purpose because it provides variables that the MMWI requires, including expenditure for household public goods and time use. Estimated MMWI allows us to see how the intrahousehold inequality evolved in the last 20 years.
PublicationsYasuyuki Sawada, Hiroyuki Nakata, and Kunio Sekiguchi (2018), Economic Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 38(1), pages 89-97)William duPont IV, Ilan Noy, and Yasuyuki Sawada (2015), PLoS ONE 10(10))