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Benevolent and Paternalistic Discrimination

Health & Psychology Bangladesh

Credit: Akram Ali

Study Context

Women in developing countries are often excluded from the labor market, reducing their financial autonomy, and their physical and mental wellbeing (e.g., Field et al., 2018). In Bangladesh, women work in different occupations than men and in lower ranks (BBS 2017). This project aims to provide the first experimental evidence that concerns for applicants’ welfare may prevent women from entering the labor force and certain occupations through benevolent or paternalistic discrimination, the preferential hiring of men for jobs perceived to be either less beneficial or even harmful for women.

Study Design

The research team aims to test whether employers discriminate benevolently in hiring, how benevolent discrimination affects skill accumulation and promotion rates, and the degree to which benevolent discrimination affects candidate and employee welfare in different industries. Nine hundred “employers” will be recruited, who are individuals with hiring responsibility, from businesses listed on one of the trade associations in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The research team also will construct a job candidate pool consisting of men and women aged 18 to 65 who responded to a generic job posting across Dhaka Division, Bangladesh, for an attractive one-day job as a data processing assistant on either the day (10 am to 4 pm) or the evening shift (6 pm to midnight). If the employers hire women less often for the evening shift when not provided free transport, it would indicate that the employers discriminate based on the perceived welfare of participants.

Results and Policy Lessons

Results forthcoming.


2022 — ongoing

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