The employment rate of women is twice as high in Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian countries compared to Mediterranean ones while this gap is close to zero for men. This phenomenon is generally explained by institutions such as labor market and family policies. In this paper it is argued that the institutions detrimental to women employment are shaped by the male breadwinner conception linked to religious values. First, by using international individual value surveys, we document that Catholic are more likely to support such "macho values" than the Protestant. Second, we develop a model showing that such a social status bias gives rise to job protection and family policies detrimental to women employment. These predictions are strongly supported by OECD panel data regressions including country-fixed effects.
Political economy, Social status, Job protection, Family policies, Religion
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