Unequal Laws and the Disempowerment of Women in the Labor Market: Evidence from Firm-Level Data

36 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2017

See all articles by Asif Islam

Asif Islam

World Bank - Development Economics Group (DEC)

Silvia Muzi

World Bank

Mohammad Amin

World Bank - Enterprise Analysis Unit

Date Written: September 21, 2017

Abstract

Institutions are defined as the set of rules that govern human interactions. When these rules are discriminatory, they may disempower segments of a population in the economic spheres of activity. This study explores whether laws that discriminate against women influence their engagement in the economy. The study adopts a holistic approach, exploring an overall measure of unequal laws also known as legal gender disparities, and relates it to several labor market outcomes for women. Using data for more than 60,000 firms across 104 economies, the study finds that unequal laws not only discourage women's participation in the private sector workforce, but also their likelihood to become top managers and owners of firms. Suggestive evidence indicates that access to finance and corruption are pathways by which legal gender disparities disempower women in the labor market.

Keywords: Gender and Economic Policy, Gender and Economics, Gender and Poverty, Economics and Gender

Suggested Citation

Islam, Asif Mohammed and Muzi, Silvia and Amin, Mohammad, Unequal Laws and the Disempowerment of Women in the Labor Market: Evidence from Firm-Level Data (September 21, 2017). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8202. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3040993

Asif Mohammed Islam (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Economics Group (DEC) ( email )

1818 H Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Silvia Muzi

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Mohammad Amin

World Bank - Enterprise Analysis Unit ( email )

2121 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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