Gendered Language

Author
Pamela Jakiela, Owen Ozier
Content Type
Working Paper
Institution
Center for Global Development
Abstract
Languages use different systems for classifying nouns. Gender languages assign nouns to distinct sex-based categories, masculine and feminine. We construct a new data set, documenting the presence or absence of grammatical gender in more than 4,000 languages which together account for more than 99 percent of the world’s population. We find a robust negative cross-country relationship between prevalence of gender languages and women’s labor force participation and educational attainment. We replicate these associations in four countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in India, showing that educational attainment and female labor force participation are lower among those whose native languages use grammatical gender.
Topic
Gender Issues, Language, Masculinity , Femininity
Political Geography
Global Focus