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Misperceived Social Norms: Women Working Outside The Home In Saudi Arabia

Leonardo Bursztyn, Alessandra L. González, David Yanagizawa-Drott

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We show that the vast majority of young married men in Saudi Arabia privately support women working outside the home (WWOH) and substantially underestimate support by other similar men. Correcting these beliefs increases men’s (costly) willingness to help their wives search for jobs. Months later, wives of men whose beliefs were corrected are more likely to have applied and interviewed for a job outside the home. In a recruitment experiment with a local company, randomly informing women about actual support for WWOH leads them to switch from an at-home temporary enumerator job to a higher-paying, outside-the-home version of the job. (JEL D83, J16, J22, O15, Z13)