Naila Shofia (Bocconi University)
1 October 2020 @ 14:00
“Modestly ambitious: Religious veiling and the public role of women”
Abstract: I re-examine a symbol of female religious piety: the Muslim headscarf. While veiling is commonly seen as a symptom of religious fundamentalism or women’s oppression, the evidence shows that this practice implies neither poverty nor lack of education. I collect a novel dataset, based on human coding of high school yearbook pictures, in 49 districts in Indonesia for more than two decades. Using an instrumental variable method, I show that veiling represents an effort by young women to reconcile their desire to benefit from new economic opportunities and the prevailing social norms in society. This work demonstrates how culture shapes the process of development in ways that may challenge the current wisdom.