Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics

Delhi School of Economics


“Ten Thousand Years of Patriarchy”


 Alice Evans 
(King’s College, London)

25 August (Thursday) at 3:05 PM (offline)
Venue: AMEX room


Our world is marked by the Great Gender Divergence. In South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, most women remain secluded. Chinese women work but are locked out of politics. Latin America has undergone radical transformation, staging massive rallies against male violence and nearly achieving gender parity in political representation. Scandinavia still comes closest to a feminist utopia, but for most of history Europe was far more patriarchal than matrilineal South East Asia and Southern Africa. What explains the Great Gender Divergence? It emerged in the twentieth century as a result of the great divergence in economic and political development across countries. In countries that underwent rapid growth, technological change freed women from domestic drudgery while industry and services increased demand for their labour. Democratisation is equally fundamental. Overturning men’s political dominance and impunity for violence requires relentless mobilisation. Culture, however, mediates the rate at which women seize opportunities created by development and democratisation. Patrilineal societies face what I call an “honour-income trade-off”. Female employment only rises if its economic returns are sufficiently large to compensate for men’s loss of honour. Otherwise, women remain secluded and surveilled with very few friends. Why do some societies have a stronger preference for female cloistering? To answer that question, we must go back ten thousand years. Over the longue durée, there have been three major waves of patriarchalisation: the Neolithic Revolution, pastoral nomadism, and Islam. These ancient ‘waves’ helped determine how gender relations in each region of the world would be transformed by the onset of modern economic growth
All are cordially invited.

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