Does Homeland Matter for Working Women?

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Does culture matter in economics? Of course! Some people care about racking up overtime hours; others care more about getting home to watch ESPN. Some families and some countries encourage women to get a job; others urge them to stay at home. An intriguing new study by Cornell’s Francine Blau shows that women who immigrate to the U.S. bring “old country” biases with them. Their homeland’s attitude impacts their desire to work. For example, women who come to the U.S. from Austria soon work even more hours than U.S.-born females. But those from Pakistan work about 35 percent fewer hours, though this gap eventually shrinks to 11-12%. It is silly, therefore, to think that the economy is not partly shaped by the cultural biases of its people – the native born and the newcomers.

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