Giulia Mancini

Gender discrimination and intra-household inequality in rural Italy, 1920s-1930s

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There is mounting evidence of extreme gender-discriminatory practices in the European past, resulting in excess female mortality («missing girls»). These phenomena were most persistent in Southern Europe, though they seemingly disappeared by the turn of the twentieth century. This paper documents the occurrence of gender discrimination in the allocation of resources within households in Italy, long after previously thought. It uses a collection of household budgets detailing the incomes, expenditures, and nutrition of Italian households active in agriculture during the late 1920s and 1930s. An empirical test for gender bias in the allocation of household expenditures delivers evidence of pro-boy bias among older children (around 7 to 14 years old). This result suggests that excess material deprivation of girls and women might have lingered until the eve of Italy’s economic miracle, and contributes to the debate on the long-run evolution of the wellbeing of Italians, by exploring within-household inequalities


  • Gender
  • intrahousehold inequality
  • agriculture
  • Italy
  • interwar
  • Fascism


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