IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Effect of Women's Rights on Women's Welfare: Evidence from a Natural Experiment


  • Silvia Pezzini


This paper explores whether the welfare of women increased following the extension of women's rights between 1960s and 1990s. Using individual level data on life satisfaction and focusing on changes in birth control rights in twelve European countries, it shows that the extension of both abortion rights and the pill is strongly linked to an increase in life satisfaction of women of childbearing age. Birth control rights also increased women's investment in education, probability of working and income. Other women's rights have proved less beneficial. Mutual consent divorce laws decreased women's welfare. High maternity protection on the job has negligible effects. Copyright 2005 Royal Economic Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Silvia Pezzini, 2005. "The Effect of Women's Rights on Women's Welfare: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages 208-227, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:115:y:2005:i:502:p:c208-c227

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Freeman, Richard B, 1978. "Job Satisfaction as an Economic Variable," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 135-141, May.
    2. Stephen Pudney & Michael Shields, 2000. "Gender, race, pay and promotion in the British nursing profession: estimation of a generalized ordered probit model," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 367-399.
    3. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    4. Stutzer, Alois & Frey, Bruno S., 2006. "Does marriage make people happy, or do happy people get married?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 326-347, April.
    5. Lelkes, Orsolya, 2006. "Tasting freedom: Happiness, religion and economic transition," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 173-194, February.
    6. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
    7. Deb, Partha & Trivedi, Pravin K., 2002. "The structure of demand for health care: latent class versus two-part models," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 601-625, July.
    8. Kamel Jedidi & Harsharanjeet S. Jagpal & Wayne S. DeSarbo, 1997. "Finite-Mixture Structural Equation Models for Response-Based Segmentation and Unobserved Heterogeneity," Marketing Science, INFORMS, pages 39-59.
    9. Robin, Jean-Marc & Smith, Richard J., 2000. "Tests Of Rank," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(02), pages 151-175, April.
    10. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
    11. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-484, July.
    12. Clark, Andrew E., 2001. "What really matters in a job? Hedonic measurement using quit data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 223-242, May.
    13. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
    14. Edward Morey & Kathleen Greer Rossmann, 2003. "Using Stated-Preference Questions to Investigate Variations in Willingness to Pay for Preserving Marble Monuments: Classic Heterogeneity, Random Parameters, and Mixture Models," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 27(3), pages 215-229, November.
    15. Tinbergen, Jan, 1991. "On the measurement of welfare," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1-2), pages 7-13, October.
    16. DeSarbo, Wayne S. & Choi, Jungwhan, 1998. "A latent structure double hurdle regression model for exploring heterogeneity in consumer search patterns," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1-2), pages 423-455, November.
    17. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Why Youths Drop Out of High School: The Impact of Preferences, Opportunities, and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1295-1340, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Recent Advances in the Economics of Individual Subjective Well-Being," Working papers 2010/04, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    2. Marcén, Miriam, 2012. "Divorce and the birth control pill," MPRA Paper 35955, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Shelly Lundberg, 2010. "The Changing Sexual Division of Labour," Chapters,in: The Shape of the Division of Labour, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 190-225, August.
    5. Gerhard Meisenberg & Michael Woodley, 2015. "Gender Differences in Subjective Well-Being and Their Relationships with Gender Equality," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(6), pages 1539-1555, December.
    6. Ngo, Thi Minh-Phuong & Wahhaj, Zaki, 2012. "Microfinance and gender empowerment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 1-12.
    7. Robert M. Solow & Jean-Philippe Touffut (ed.), 2010. "The Shape of the Division of Labour," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14184.
    8. Tatiana Karabchuk, 2016. "The subjective well-being of women in Europe: children, work and employment protection legislation," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 15(2), pages 219-245, November.
    9. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2005. "Happiness Research: State and Prospects," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(2), pages 207-228.
    10. repec:eee:jjieco:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Gordon Anderson & Teng Leo & Robert Muelhaupt, 2014. "Measuring Advances in Equality of Opportunity: The Changing Gender Gap in Educational Attainment in Canada in the Last Half Century," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(1), pages 73-99, October.
    12. Chikako Yamauchi, 2010. "The availability of child care centers, perceived search costs and parental life satisfaction," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 231-253, June.
    13. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2006. "Should We Maximize National Happiness?," IEW - Working Papers 306, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    14. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Happiness and public choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(3), pages 557-573, September.
    15. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Kawaguchi, Daiji & Lee, Jungmin, 2017. "Does labor legislation benefit workers? Well-being after an hours reduction," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-12.
    16. Matthias Doepke & Michèle Tertilt & Alessandra Voena, 2012. "The Economics and Politics of Women's Rights," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 339-372, July.
    17. Asadullah, Niaz & Fernández, Rosa M., 2008. "Work-Life Balance Practices and the Gender Gap in Job Satisfaction in the UK: Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3582, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Marcel Fafchamps & Bereket Kebede & Agnes R. Quisumbing, 2009. "Intrahousehold Welfare in Rural Ethiopia," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 71(4), pages 567-599, August.
    19. Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2008. "Putting a price tag on friends, relatives, and neighbours: Using surveys of life satisfaction to value social relationships," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 1459-1480, August.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:115:y:2005:i:502:p:c208-c227. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.