Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics
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The Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance

No 574:
Female Career Success: Institutions, Path Dependence and Psychology

Magnus Henrekson () and Anna Dreber ()

Abstract: This paper identifies the pertinent institutions governing the structure of payoffs with regard to female career progression. Drawing on recent insights in behavioral economics, we hypothesize that interactions between psychological mechanisms and the institutional setup may be important determinants of cross-country differences in the level and evolution of female representation on executive positions in the business sector. We test this proposition informally by exploring whether it can be used to account for some of the observed differences between Sweden and the US in this respect. Our normative conclusion is that institutional reforms aimed at increasing female representation should take into account the role of psychological mechanisms in determining career choices and how these mechanisms are affected by relevant institutions such as the level of personal taxes, rules for parental leave, child care and wage-setting arrangements. Throughout the strong path dependence in career choice and career progression is emphasized.

Keywords: Career choice; Career incentives; Gender equality; Parental leave; Household production; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D13; D63; J16; J20; M52; (follow links to similar papers)

34 pages, December 13, 2004, Revised January 25, 2007


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This paper is published as:
Henrekson, Magnus and Mikael Stenkula, (2009), 'Why Are There So Few Female Top Executives in Egalitarian Welfare States?', Independent Review, Vol. 14, No. 2, pages 239-270

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