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Women's Rights and Development

  • Fernández, Raquel
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    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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    File URL: http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=7464
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    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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    1. 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).
    2. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2006. "Daughters and Left-Wing Voting," IZA Discussion Papers 2103, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. 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, November.
    4. Gall, Thomas & Legros, Patrick & Newman, Andrew, 2012. "Mismatch, rematch, and investment," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 189, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    5. Scott L. Baier & Gerald P. Dwyer, Jr. & Robert Tamura, 2002. "How important are capital and total factor productivity for economic growth?," Working Paper 2002-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    6. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Das Human Kapital," Working Papers 2000-17, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    7. 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.
    8. Kevin M. Murphy & Curtis Simon & Robert Tamura, 2008. "Fertility Decline, Baby Boom, and Economic Growth," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(3), pages 262-302.
    9. Lagerlöf, Nils-Petter, 2003. "Slavery and other property rights," MPRA Paper 372, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 30 Aug 2006.
    10. 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.
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