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Women's Rights and Development

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  • Fernández, Raquel
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    Abstract

    Why has the expansion of women's economic and political rights coincided with economic development? This paper investigates this question, focusing on a key economic right for women: property rights. The basic hypothesis is that the process of development (i.e., capital accumulation and declining fertility) exacerbated the tension in men's conflicting interests as husbands versus fathers, ultimately resolving them in favor of the latter. As husbands, men stood to gain from their privileged position in a patriarchal world whereas, as fathers, they were hurt by a system that afforded few rights to their daughters. The model predicts that declining fertility would hasten reform of women's property rights whereas legal systems that were initially more favorable to women would delay them. The theoretical relationship between capital and the relative attractiveness of reform is non-monotonic but growth inevitably leads to reform. I explore the empirical validity of the theoretical predictions by using cross-state variation in the US in the timing of married women obtaining property and earning rights between 1850 and 1920.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7464.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7464

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    Related research

    Keywords: development; fertility; legal system; property rights; women's rights;

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    1. Samuel H. Preston & Michael R. Haines, 1991. "Fatal Years: Child Mortality in Late Nineteenth-Century America," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pres91-1, July.
    2. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2006. "Daughters and Left-Wing Voting," IZA Discussion Papers 2103, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Lena Edlund & Rohini Pande, 2002. "Why Have Women Become Left-Wing? The Political Gender Gap And The Decline In Marriage," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 917-961, August.
    4. Lagerlöf, Nils-Petter, 2003. "Slavery and other property rights," MPRA Paper 372, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 30 Aug 2006.
    5. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Das Human Kapital," Working Papers 2000-17, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    6. Iyigun, Murat & Walsh, Randall P., 2007. "Endogenous gender power, household labor supply and the demographic transition," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 138-155, January.
    7. Iyigun, Murat & Walsh, Randall P., 2005. "Building the Family Nest: Pre-Marital Investments, Marriage Markets and Spousal Allocations," IZA Discussion Papers 1752, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Scott L. Baier & Gerald P. Dwyer & Robert Tamura, 2006. "How Important are Capital and Total Factor Productivity for Economic Growth?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(1), pages 23-49, January.
    9. Thomas Gall & Patrick Legros & Andrew F. Newman, 2009. "Mis-match, Re-match, and Investment," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-189, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    10. Murphy, Kevin M & Simon, Curtis & Tamura, Robert, 2008. "Fertility decline, baby boom and economic growth," MPRA Paper 7719, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:
    1. Graziella Bertocchi, 2007. "The Enfranchisement of Women and the Welfare State," CHILD Working Papers wp15_07, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
    2. Esther Duflo, 2012. "Women Empowerment and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-79, December.
    3. Naghsh Nejad, Maryam, 2013. "Institutionalized Inequality and Brain Drain: An Empirical Study of the Effects of Women's Rights on the Gender Gap in High-Skilled Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 7864, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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