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Women's legal rights over 50 years : what is the impact of reform ?

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Author Info

  • Hallward-Driemeier, Mary
  • Hasan, Tazeen
  • Rusu, Anca Bogdana

Abstract

This study uses a newly compiled database of women's property rights and legal capacity covering 100 countries over 50 years to test for the impact of legal reforms on employment, health, and education outcomes for women and girls. The database demonstrates gender gaps in the ability to access and own property, sign legal documents in one's own name, and have equality or non-discrimination as a guiding principle of the country's constitution. In the initial period, 75 countries had gender gaps in at least one of these areas and often multiple ones. By 2010, 57 countries had made reforms that strengthened women's economic rights, including 28 countries that had eliminated all of the constraints monitored here. In the cross-section and within countries over time, the removal of gender gaps in rights is associated with greater participation of women in the labor force, greater movement out of agricultural employment, higher rates of women in wage employment, lower adolescent fertility, lower maternal and infant mortality, and higher female educational enrollment. This paper provides evidence on how the strengthening of women's legal rights is associated with important development outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6617.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2013
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6617

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Related research

Keywords: Gender and Law; Population Policies; Access to Finance; Legal Products; Labor Policies;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

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  1. Sevi Simavi & Clare Manuel & Mark Blackden, 2010. "Gender Dimensions of Investment Climate Reform : A Guide for Policy Makers and Practitioners," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2408.
  2. Ernest Aryeetey & Christopher Udry, 2010. "Creating Property Rights: Land Banks in Ghana," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 130-34, May.
  3. Juan Botero & Simeon Djankov & Rafael Porta & Florencio C. Lopez-De-Silanes, 2004. "The Regulation of Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1339-1382, November.
  4. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2005. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Working Papers 929, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  5. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2008. "Are women more credit constrained ? experimental evidence on gender and microenterprise returns," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4746, The World Bank.
  6. Benhassine, Najy & Fafchamps, Marcel & Söderbom, Måns, 2006. "Wage Gaps and Job Sorting in African Manufacturing," CEPR Discussion Papers 6003, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 267-288, 02.
  8. Erica Field, 2007. "Entitled to Work: Urban Property Rights and Labor Supply in Peru," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1561-1602, November.
  9. Aterido, Reyes & Beck, Thorsten & Iacovone, Leonardo, 2011. "Gender and finance in Sub-Saharan Africa : are women disadvantaged ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5571, The World Bank.
  10. Deininger, Klaus & Goyal, Aparajita & Nagarajan, Hari, 2010. "Inheritance law reform and women's access to capital : evidence from India's Hindu succession act," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5338, The World Bank.
  11. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-37, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Hallward-Driemeier, Mary & Hasan, Tazeen & Rusu, Anca Bogdana, 2013. "Women's legal rights over 50 years : progress, stagnation or regression ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6616, The World Bank.

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