SANDRA AGUILAR-GÓMEZ is an incoming postdoctoral scholar at the Center for Global Transformation (CGT) at UC San Diego, and next year (Fall 2022), she will join Universidad de Los Andes as an Assistant Professor of Economics. She holds a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development from Columbia University. Her main research interests focus on understanding the consequences of environmental change and the challenges governments face in implementing policies in contexts with underlying structural inequalities or weak institutions. Likewise, she also conducts research in gender issues for developing countries. Work in progress con Anja Benshaul-Tolonen (Barnard)
Abstract: Does natural resource-led industrial specialization affect women's roles in society, and do such roles persist over time, even as the initial conditions are gone? We explore the Gold Rush in Western United States in the late 19th-century as a natural experiment to answer these questions. We use a geographic difference-in-difference methodology, exploiting the location and discovery of gold deposits and their influence on sex ratios, to understand short-term and persistent changes in labor and marriage markets. Gold mining, through the oversupply of marriageable men with income, increased (decreased) marriage rates among women (men). Women married older men, and fewer women entered the labor markets. In parallel, the Gold Rush created a market-based service sector economy for women. The initial service sector boom rapidly disappeared with the gold, leaving persistent, depressed labor force participation of women and strong marriage norms in its wake.