Limited access Past event

Applied Microeconomics Group Seminar Women and Asylums

Speaker: Dr Melanie Meng Xue, London School of Economics

Abstract: 19th c. England saw a massive growth of mental asylum. Both the number of asylums and the number of patients held in asylums increased exponentially. I begin by documenting the characteristics of asylum patients using full-count British population censuses. Consistent with the widespread impression, women are overrepresented in the mental asylum. I move on to uncover the regional correlates of the share of women. To understand the cause of a disproportional number of women being kept in the asylum, I examine the cause of admission for over 140,000 admissions and find evidence that gendered cultural beliefs and norms played an important role in admissions. Finally, using a natural experiment — the Married Women's Property Act 1882 — I show that increased control over financial means alleviated the incidence of mental distress for women.

More information on this event