This event has passed

Date and Location

November 8, 2019
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Wexner 434 Ab


Information and Social Norms: Experimental Evidence on the Labor Market Aspirations of Saudi Women Photo


How important are social constraints and information gaps about the labor market in explaining the low rates of female labor force participation (FLFP) in societies that are undergoing change, but have conservative gender norms? To answer this question, we conducted a field experiment embedded in a survey of female university students at a large public university in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We randomly provided one subset of individuals with information on the labor market and aspirations of their female peers (T1), while another subset was provided with this information along with a prime that made the role of parents and family more salient (T2). We find that expectations of working among those in the Control group are quite high, yet students underestimate the expected labor force attachment of their female peers. We show that information matters: relative to the Control group, expectations about own labor force participation are significantly higher in the T1 group. We find little evidence that dissemination of information was counteracted by local gender norms: impacts for the T2 group are significant and often larger than those for T1 group. These impacts are primarily driven by students who report wanting to share their responses with their parents. However, T2 leads to higher expectations of working in a sector that is more culturally accepted for women (education).  

*With Monira Essa Aloud (King Saud University), Sara Al-Rashood (King Saud University), Ina Ganguli (University of Massachusetts Amherst) and Basit Zafar (Arizona State University) 


Ina Ganguli is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Associate Director of the UMass Computational Social Science Institute (CSSI).  Her primary research areas are labor economics and the economics of science and innovation. She holds a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University, a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University.  She is a Research Affiliate of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard University (LISH) and a Research Fellow at the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics (SITE) at the Stockholm School of Economics.  In 2018 she received the Russian National Prize in Applied Economics and previously received honorable mention for the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research Dissertation Award.  She has been a U.S. Embassy Policy Specialist Fellow in Russia, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan, a Fulbright Scholar in Ukraine, and a Bundestag International Parliamentary Program Fellow in Germany. 

Speakers and Presenters

Ina Ganguli