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Financial inclusion and legal discrimination against women : evidence from developing countries

  • Demirguc-Kunt, Asli
  • Klapper, Leora
  • Singer, Dorothe

This paper documents and analyzes gender differences in the use of financial services using individual-level data from 98 developing countries. The data, drawn from the Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) database, highlight the existence of significant gender gaps in ownership of accounts and usage of savings and credit products. Even after controlling for a host of individual characteristics including income, education, employment status, rural residency and age, gender remains significantly related to usage of financial services. This study also finds that legal discrimination against women and gender norms may explain some of the cross-country variation in access to finance for women. The analysis finds that in countries where women face legal restrictions in their ability to work, head a household, choose where to live, and receive inheritance, women are less likely to own an account, relative to men, as well as to save and borrow. The results also confirm that manifestations of gender norms, such as the level of violence against women and the incidence of early marriage for women, contribute to explaining the variation in the use of financial services between men and women, after controlling for other individual and country characteristics.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6416.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2013
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6416
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  1. Alexander Muravyev & Dorothea Schäfer & Oleksandr Talavera, 2007. "Entrepreneurs' Gender and Financial Constraints: Evidence from International Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 706, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2008. "Planning and Financial Literacy: How Do Women Fare?," NBER Working Papers 13750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Asli Demirg��-Kunt & Ross Levine, 2009. "Finance and Inequality: Theory and Evidence," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 287-318, November.
  4. Beck, Thorsten & Levine, Ross & Loayza, Norman, 1999. "Finance and the sources of growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2057, The World Bank.
  5. Demirgüç-Kunt, A. & Beck, T.H.L. & Honohan, P., 2008. "Finance for all? : Policies and pitfalls in expanding access," Other publications TiSEM aec73d3a-d6eb-457f-9182-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  6. 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.
  7. Klapper, Leora & Laeven, Luc & Rajan, Raghuram, 2006. "Entry regulation as a barrier to entrepreneurship," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 591-629, December.
  8. Buvinic, Mayra & Berger, Marguerite, 1990. "Sex differences in access to a small enterprise development fund in Peru," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 695-705, May.
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