Simeon Djankov, Pinelopi Goldberg, 24 May 2021

Despite the significant barriers to economic inclusion that many women face, there is a long history of scepticism regarding the relevance of laws that discriminate on the basis of gender. This column analyses global data on legal gender equality and shows that greater legal equality between men and women is associated with a narrower gender gap in opportunities and outcomes, fewer female workers in positions of vulnerable employment, and greater political representation for women. Country attributes that are significant predictors of legal gender equality (including religion, legal origin, and geography) evolve slowly, if at all. Nonetheless, considerable progress in legal gender equality took place in some parts of the world over the past five decades.

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