Changing Social Norms and the "Double Burden" in Morocco


3 to 5 p.m., Oct. 27, 2023


Carolyn Barnett is an assistant professor in the School of Government and Public Policy and School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona. She studies gender, political psychology, social policy, and political and economic behavior in the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has appeared in Comparative Political Studies, The American Journal of Political Science, Politics & Gender, PS: Political Science and Politics, and Hawwa. Her dissertation (defended at Princeton in 2022) received the Best Dissertation Award from the Middle East and North African Politics Section of APSA in 2023, and an honorary mention for Best Fieldwork from the Democracy & Autocracy Section in 2022. Carolyn has held Fulbright scholarships to Morocco and Egypt and a Marshall Scholarship to the UK. She previously worked as a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies from 2012-2015.

Changing Social Norms and the "Double Burden" in Morocco 

Do perceived norms around household roles hinder the emergence of more gender-equal distributions of labor in Morocco? Moroccan women undertake a disproportionate share of unpaid household and care labor and participate in the labor force at low rates. Yet everyday practices are shifting, and acquiring information about men contributing to unpaid labor could shift individuals’ normative expectations. I find in an online survey of predominantly urban, employed Moroccans that despite perceptions of changing norms in some aspects of household organization, unpaid labor burdens remain highly unequal and are driven by male preferences. The burden of unpaid labor that women face is a constraint on labor force participation, but mainly as a side effect of continued strong preferences for a male breadwinner family model. An experiment providing respondents with accurate information about men contributing to household tasks did not alter perceptions about how norms would evolve in the future.