forthcoming in the Journal of Comparative Economics
Religious conservatism is often associated with patriarchal attitudes and deterioration of women’s rights. This conventional wisdom has motivated ubiquitous policies that limit public expressions of religion and emphasize secular values. This paper demonstrates that a policy change which undermines secularity ends up empowering women. The current article takes advantage of a unique divergence in political institutions that occurred in Turkey’s recent history to explore how revoking a headscarf ban affected employment outcomes of women in the public sector. In a difference-in-discontinuities setting, I exploit the before/after discontinuous policy variation and compare female employment within municipalities that have Islamist and secular mayors. I find that eliminating legal obstacles against observant Muslim women in the labor market improves female employment in Islamist municipalities. Yet, when women are not allowed to wear headscarves to work, Islamist mayors employ less women vis-à-vis secular mayors. Overall, findings point to unintended consequences of headscarf bans on pious women.
Do Generous Parental Leave Policies Help Top Female Earners? (with Marco Francesconi and Astrid Kunze)
forthcoming in Oxford Review of Economic Policy
Generous government-mandated parental leave is generally viewed as an effective policy to support women's careers around childbirth. But does it help women to reach top positions in the upper pay echelon of their firms? Using longitudinal employer-employee matched data for the entire Norwegian population, we address this question exploiting a series of reforms that expanded paid leave from 30 weeks in 1989 to 52 weeks in 1993. The representation of women in top positions has only moderately increased over time, and career profiles of female top earners within firms are significantly different from those of their male counterparts. The reforms did not affect, and possibly decreased, the probability for women to be at the top over their life cycle. We discuss some implications of this result to put into perspective the design of new family-friendly policy interventions.
Truth or Dare: Detecting Systematic Manipulation of COVID-19 Statistics (with Serkant Adıgüzel and Asli Cansunar)
forthcoming in the Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy
Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Electoral Responses to Proximity of Health Care (with Serkant Adıgüzel and Asli Cansunar)
While it is widely theorized that expansion of public goods and services provision positively affects the re-election chances of the incumbent, there has been relatively little effort to examine whether changes in geographic accessibility to governmental services attract more votes for the incumbent. In this paper, we confront this question directly, asking whether decreases in walking time to local health clinics attract votes for the incumbent party. Leveraging the Family Medicine Program reform in Turkey, which gave rise to an exogenous variation in proximity to the local clinics, we find that communities whose walking time to local health centers decreased voted significantly more for the AKP. We also show that communities with poorer and more dependent voters were electorally more responsive to decreases in distance to the closest local clinic.