Èric Roca Fernandez - Essays on economic development and gender inequality

ESPO Louvain-La-Neuve, Mons

06 septembre 2018



LECL - 61, Place Montesquieu 1

Le Recteur de l'Université catholique de Louvain fait savoir que


soutiendra publiquement sa dissertation pour l'obtention du titre de Docteur en sciences économiques et de gestion

« Essays on Economic Development and Gender »


In this doctoral thesis I investigate how economic development and gender relate to each other. In doing so, I place women at the centre of the discussion and analyse several aspects involving them: the rise of gender equality, its long-run consequences on state capacity, and a novel mechanism that explains maternal employment in sub-Saharan Africa through economic prosperity.

Chapter 1 —co-authored with Annalisa Frigo— delves into the long-forgotten origins of gender equality, showing that a temporary female empowerment can have enduring effects on gender equality once women’s improved outcomes morph into culture.

This chapter complements several advances that document the origins of gender equality, or more broadly, of gender roles. The channel I advance in this chapter is novel in the relevant literature and emphasises female’s bargaining power and access to better outside options, triggered by the establishment of beguine communities in the Belgian context.

In Chapter 2, I document that gender equality may have lingering consequences on economic prosperity through nation-building during its early stages. Building on a theoretical model, I find that granting women equal access to inherit hastens state-building in the short run, but delays it in the long run. This result is important because the literature, in the context of my model, has typically portrayed only a negative relationship between variables. My result refines the previous findings and indicates that, at critical junctures, gender equality may be growth-enhancing.

Finally, in Chapter 3, I analyse how economic growth and maternal employment coeval in developing societies, where mother’s work can jeopardise children’s safety. The mechanism I propose is anchored by the medical literature but has never been investigated in economics. Moreover, this chapter clearly indicates the importance of economic growth in determining maternal job-taking.


Professeur Fabio Mariani, Université catholique de Louvain (Promoteur)

Professeur Luca Pensieroso, Université catholique de Louvain (Promoteur)                                              

Professeur Muriel Dejemeppe, Université catholique de Louvain (Présidente)                                             

Professeur David de la Croix, Université catholique de Louvain (Membre)

Professeur Jacob Weisdorf, Syddansk Universitet (Membre)

Professeur Oded Galor, Brown University (Membre)