Is plough use persistently bad for female status?

In countries with a tradition of plough use, women are less likely to participate in the labor market, own firms, and participate in national politics.


…societies that historically used the plough are characterized by higher parental authority granted to the father, by inheritance rules that favor male heirs, and by less freedom for women to move outside the house. She also finds that, in these societies, women are more likely to wear a veil in public and polygamy is less accepted or illegal.


Past societal norms, too, are related to domestic violence today: women in societies formerly characterized by bride-price have a lower probability and lower intensity of violence today.

That is from a new NBER working paper by Paola Giuliano.  Among other things, this means that how you treat people today really matters for the longer run.


More sociology masquerading as economics!


"The Plough and the Stars" is a fine Sean O'Casey play and outstanding John Ford movie (1936).

Maybe Tyler is attempting to dissuade male transgender people by highlighting the traditional problems women suffered.


Plow, or so one would think as an American.

For example - 'While serving as minister to France, Jefferson had the opportunity to observe European plow designs. Their deficiencies inspired him to set down in a memorandum (1788) his plans for an improved moldboard, the wooden part of the plow that lifts up and turns over the sod cut by the iron share and coulter. He wished to make that lifting and turning action as efficient as possible, so that the plow could be pulled through the soil with the least expenditure of force.'

john fante, the road to la, Arturo had the opportunity to kill crabs. It was memorable, the best part was when he kisses the match, so we disagree about bob Dylan.

Crabbily pedantic, bobbing around Bob.

Napier may have worked largely in isolation, but he had contact with Tycho Brahe who corresponded with his friend John Craig. Craig certainly announced the discovery of logarithms to Brahe in the 1590s (the name itself came later); there is a story from Anthony à Wood, perhaps not well substantiated, that Napier had a hint from Craig that Longomontanus, a follower of Brahe, was working in a similar direction.

Plows directly plow expansion; the light 'scratch plow' pulled by a chokehold yoke on a horse (windpipe constricted) or by lethargic albeit strong oxen of the south Mediterranean giving way to the heavy "horse collar" plow of northern Europe, suitable for heavy clay and forested soils. It's how North Europe became a juggernaut!

He drove through the metal swampland, through gypsum ledged hickory forests, past miles of broad-roofed parishes, capped churches, silver silos, some with cows and a few with horses, until the cedar woods and salt domes led him to the Pioneer Inn.

There can't possibly be any confounding here - it's cause - and - effect all the way down!

Chrysanthemum Peruvianum

Clytia - The Chrysanthemum Peruvianum, or, to employ a better-known term, the turnsol - which continually turns towards the sun, covers itself, like Peru, the country from which it comes, with dewy clouds which cool and refresh its flowers during the most violent heat of the day.

So the method of production determines the nature of the society? Now where have I herd that one before .... and no, not Marx. It's Gerhard Lenski, summed up here ( in what are called horticultural societies, that is, those that practice settled agriculture but don't use plows:

"Interestingly enough, kinship emphasizes ties through the female line rather frequently in horticultural
societies. Such societies are said to be matrilineal. In many horticultural societies, women
contribute disproportionately to subsistence activities because they are responsible for most
of the gardening work, and it seems to be useful to keep related sets of women together after
marriage, rather than men as in the typically patrilineal hunter-gatherer case."

The Lenskis got there more than 50 years ago ... I doubt Giuliano has anything new to add.


"Is plough use persistently bad for female status?"

Maybe if they stopped kicking...


Now we really know why the buggy whip manufacturers went out of business.

To be fair, I used a buggy whip until I noticed spurs work better with women.

Why, because they get the women to pull the plows?

On the other hand, in tropical farming cultures (e.g., in sub-Saharan Africa and the highlands of New Guinea) that traditionally don't use ploughs but instead use light hoes to weed, the women often do the large majority of the farm work, while the men tend to sit around waiting for their womenfolk to feed them. (Plows and draft animals to pull them tend to require large amounts of upper body strength to manage, they are men's work.)

By 20th century white feminist concerns, sub-Saharan Africans tend to appear to be fully liberated to go out in the fields and work while their menfolk sit around and do the pre-technological versions of playing video games all day. African feminists, in contrast, tend to want African men to work harder so that African women can spend more time in the home.

In older times the men in those societies did have designated roles. They did not just "sit around and do nothing" except maybe at the most rarified upper level of society. No subsistence society can survive in half their population is idle. The men did whatever heavy and dangerous work there was: hunting, war fighting, beast herding, metal smithing, etc. And a fair number of them (along with a fair number of women) were menials.
The problem today is those male roles have been made redundant but there isn't enough of a modern economy there yet to the men in other roles.

"No subsistence society can survive if[?] half their population is idle."

Actually, you can if you are traditionally well below the Malthusian ceiling due to disease, war, local violence, and competition for resources from large, wary, dangerous animals such as elephants.

Arabs and later Europeans found that they could siphon off millions of sub-Saharan males as slaves for many generations without much depleting the reserve populations of potential slaves, which didn't need that many males back home to keep on keeping on.

When the sub-Saharan males were siphoned off as slaves, they were removed from the subsistence society's population so weren't being idle in that society. If they stayed around idle and consumed resources it would have slowed the increase in the reserve population of slaves.

How many societies remain below the Malthusian limit on a permanent basis? Europe managed it for several generations after the Black Death-- but eventually hit the limit again. And we've managed it for two centuries now, more or less, but the jury is still out on whether it will last forever.

Re: Arabs and later Europeans found that they could siphon off millions of sub-Saharan males as slaves for many generations without much depleting the reserve populations of potential slaves

I'm not sure what your point is. Slaves transferred abroad removed mouths to feed as well as workers: it was a wash. Moreover human beings tend to reproduce, something that applies to both the slaves transferred elsewhere and to the people left behind. It sounds horrible to phrase it this way, but we are a renewable resource.

I think that you're assuming here that the limit is labour, i.e. that the marginal family is the one farming such poor land that the adults together only just grow enough food. This is the north-european Malthusian limit.

My (limited) understanding is that in tropical places this wasn't the constraint, and disease was more important. There was lots of land for food, but if you farmed it all, you'd land up at such a high population density that you'd all die of cholera (or whatever). The equilibrium density was much lower.

In such a set-up it's entirely possible that half the population could grow all the food. And this was usually the women. The men weren't idle of course, just that the route to lots of grandkids involved winning a different set of competitions.

In pre-modern situations men living in the horticulture often tended to do the rather useful work of making war (killing) and seizing good land. But apparently these things called "states" and their even more newfangled "police" and "armies" frown on that kind of thing!

SS SS :"instead use light hoes to weed," vat? Vat you been smoking, misogynist racist?

The reason that Western and Middle Eastern plough/dowry cultures compared to tropical hoe/brideprice cultures, where the husband works hard to bring home the bacon, are less tolerant to wifely infidelity and introducing cuckoo's egg offspring fathered by other bio-fathers is because husbands invest a lot more work in their wives and children and thus are less tolerant of wives fooling around on them than in sub-Saharan African hoe cultures.

I'm really trying hard here to make a joke using the words plow and hoe.

An extreme caricature of traditional hoe cultures' style of sexual relations found in America is the ho-pimp culture where the women do all the work and the man invests in making himself sexy in clothing and demeanour to his women, while not demanding sexual exclusivity from them at all.

Ah, should have known. The etymology gives it all away!

thebes went into the wild first, also Oscar wilde might be from cairo mildew stains

Yeah, that, and the shape of their heads, lol.

Irma la Douce?

What's the deal with halftone type pieces and their correlation to rudulfo lipshitz.

Shouldn't the introduction of tractors have recified the imbalance? it doesn't take much physical strength to drive a tractor.

My guess, based on limited experience in farming as a young'un: the tractor pulls the wagon and the wagon must be loaded and unloaded, which still requires a good bit of physical strength. Also, the use of modern mechanical equipment like tractors, combines, and so forth makes farming more efficient, but it also makes it more dangerous. Men always do the more dangerous work.

It has, although not by women en masse driving tractors for a living. The mechanization of agriculture has allowed the centralization of agricultural production into a much smaller number of producers. Consequently, the economy has shifted towards employment in corporate offices and service industry work, which is labor women can do. Male labor force participation has been declining, along with marriage rates in the US. This is the pattern we see in horticultural societies as in sub-Saharan Africa.

WTF is "plough use" and "used the plough"??? Terrible.

Merry making marks akin to king makers furled and unfurled the king of snakes, the Kaliya

Who cares?

I can't download the paper till tomorrow, but...

"Country" in the usual sense is probably a terrible basis for this. I bet a little fiddling here could vastly change the result...

One critical point is that the plow is incredibly dominant and the primary historic agricultural mechanism. If one considers all the countries that are genetically plow cultures you are pretty much left with sub Saharan Africa and the least developed countries on earth. All of the societies with the most gender equality are plow heritage countries, and most plow heritage societies do not veil women.

Also the only non pastoral/fisher/gatherer cultures in the world tend to be either effectively extinct, such as Precolumbian Americas, and thus unknowable, or humid and tropical which while often lacking the plough for solid ecological regions, generally had rather different clothing regimes until well into the historic era even when they were plow using. Ie. women's clothing in SE Asia and Southern India is generally far less confining, for purely environmental reasons such as nature of rot resistant fibers and the unbearable humidity that preclude all but the upper classes from covering women head to toe.

In Java for example, Dutch women for two hundred years generally wore kebaya and sarong until the coming of Olivia, wife of Stamford Raffles, who forced European dress on the poor white women of Batavia.

In other words, countries that restrict women are more likely to engage in a complex of backward behaviors that keep them stuck in the plough age? Actually quite true in my experience. But not exactly a universal explanation: plough use persisted until recently in much of eastern Europe (esp. Romania, western Ukraine) without especially restrictive attitudes towards women.

Borat disagrees.

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