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.

Abigail Adams-Prassl, Teodora Boneva, Marta Golin, Christopher Rauh, 27 April 2021

Women, the young, and the less educated have borne the brunt of the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns in terms of job and earnings losses. As this column reports, women have also suffered far more from social distancing measures than men in terms of their mental health. Evidence from the Spring 2020 ‘stay-at-home’ orders in US states indicates that this widening gender gap in mental health cannot be explained by respondents earning less than usual, working less than usual, losing their job, struggling to pay their bills, or changing their work patterns or number of hours spent on childcare. 

Stephanie Kelly, Abigail Watt, Nancy Hardie, Jeremy Lawson, 18 February 2021

As populations age and labour productivity slows, policy agendas that support stronger diversity and inclusion measures could provide a much needed shot in the arm for the global economy. This column describes the constraints limiting women’s full participation in the workforce across a wide sample of countries, and suggests that governments looking to maximise growth prioritise paternity leave legislation, tax wedges, and employment protections. Policies targeting gender parity must focus not only on women’s labour-supply decisions but on men’s behaviour as well. 

Simeon Djankov, Tea Trumbic, Eva (Yiwen) Zhang, 14 December 2020

The global pandemic has exacerbated the gender pay gap for many, but not all, advanced economies. This column examines evidence from eight countries to show that certain policy responses to the pandemic have better served women’s participation in the labour force than others – notably those tailored to flexible working to accommodate home and childcare responsibilities, as well as those serving industries with greater participation by women. Such policies should be taken into account, especially as historically the reintegration of women into the labour force can take time after a crisis.

Ethan Ilzetzki, 05 August 2020

Pupils in schools across the UK have lost up to 105 days of education due to school closures during the COVID-19 lockdown and a second wave of the pandemic, likely in the autumn, may disrupt education further. This column discusses the latest Centre for Macroeconomics survey, in which the panel predicted that the cost to UK economic growth in the will be minor to moderate. However, the panel was unanimous that school closures will increase inequality, with a large majority of the panel predicting a persistent increase in inequality. The panel also predicted harm to gender equality, with many predicting persistent increases in inequality along gender lines.

Richard V. Burkhauser, Nicolas Hérault, Stephen P. Jenkins, Roger Wilkins, 21 July 2020

The share of total income held by those at the very top of the income distribution has been much analysed, but despite a rising share of women in the top 1% of the income distribution, less is known about the gender divide at the top. This column analyses gender differences among the UK top 1% between 1999 and 2015. The rising share of women in the top 1% is largely accounted for by women having increased the time they spend in full-time education by more than men did.

Jean Benoit Eymeoud, Paul Vertier, 22 May 2020

While decades of research have investigated the reasons behind the underrepresentation of women in politics, uncovering discriminatory behaviours of voters remains a difficult task. This column examines the voting outcomes of French departmental elections in 2015, which required candidates to run in mixed-gender pairs, and isolates discriminatory behaviour of right-wing voters. Right-wing parties lost votes when the woman’s name appeared first on the ballot. However, the discriminatory effect disappears where information about the candidates is available on the ballot.

Joyce He, Sonia Kang, Nicola Lacetera, 08 February 2020

Many work environments require their employees to apply for promotions, a process that results in fewer women opting to compete. This column presents evidence to suggest that changing promotion schemes to a default where everyone is considered but has the option to ‘opt out’ could help close the gender gap in applications to compete for promotions. 

Anne Boschini, Jesper Roine, 29 January 2020

While the rising income share of top earners has received enormous attention in recent years, the share of women at the top has not been examined as closely. This column analyses income tax data from Sweden, where taxes are filed individually regardless of marital status. It finds that while the share of women among the wealthiest groups has steadily increased over time, women remain a clear minority, especially at the very top. Unlike top-income men, top-income women are much more likely to have partners who are also in the top of the income distribution.

Sofoklis Goulas, Rigissa Megalokonomou, 11 January 2020

Exam scheduling may contribute to performance gaps between subjects, between males and females, as well as between students with differing performance histories. Using lottery-generated variation in exam timing at a Greek public high school, this column identifies three distinct channels through which exam scheduling can influence test performance. The simulation experiments show that the higher the number of exams taken, the higher the potential benefit from optimising exams scheduling.

Christine Exley, Judd Kessler, 23 December 2019

Women earn less than men at every level of employment, an inequality that has persisted for decades. This column examines one potential factor, namely, a sizeable gender gap in self-promotion. It considers four possible causes for this gap – performance, confidence, strategic incentives, and ambiguity – and while none can explain the gap alone, they do shed light on some of the labour market perceptions women may internalise over time, and to which employers should be sensitive in hiring practices.

J Michelle Brock, Ralph De Haas, 07 October 2019

Discrimination in access to financial services can prevent women from exploiting their entrepreneurial potential. This column reports on a lab-in-the-field experiment to test for the presence of gender discrimination in small business lending in Turkey. It finds that while unconditional loan approval rates are the same for male and female applicants, there exists a more subtle form of discrimination, with loan officers 30% more likely to make loan approval conditional on the presence of a guarantor when an application appears to come from a female instead of a male entrepreneur. This discrimination is concentrated among young, inexperienced, and gender-biased officers.

Yukiko Asai, 05 September 2019

One factor exacerbating gender gaps in employment is the cost of affording maternity and parental leave to women as primary caregivers. This column analyses the relationship between the costs of providing parental leave and labour demand for childbearing-age women. As evidenced by a series of reforms in Japan in the last two decades, reducing the burden of parental leave costs from firms to social insurance systems increases both labour demand and starting wages for such workers.

Laura Hospido, Luc Laeven, Ana Lamo, 05 July 2019

The underrepresentation of women in economics is perhaps nowhere as visible as in central banks. This column uses anonymised personnel data to analyse the career progression of men and women at the ECB. A wage gap in favour of men emerges within a few years of hiring, with one important driver being the presence of children. Women were also less likely to be promoted to a higher salary band up until 2010, when the ECB issued a statement supporting diversity and took measures to support gender balance. Following this change, the promotion gap disappears. 

Marianne Bertrand, 29 April 2019

Marianne Bertrand discusses how the pipeline of women entering economics could be improved by better describing the profession.

Paola Giuliano, 22 February 2019

Why do girls do less well than boys in school math tests? Paola Giuliano of UCLA explains to Tim Phillips that, for many girls, the problem starts at home.

Thomas Le Barbanchon, Julien Sauvagnat, 08 December 2018

Despite many efforts to close the gender gap, women remain underrepresented in politics. This column shows that in the case of France, voters’ preferences towards gender shapes political selection and ultimately the gender composition of elected politicians. This suggests that gender parity in policymaking relies on improving the slow-changing attitudes of voters towards male and female political candidates.

Christine Lagarde, Jonathan D. Ostry, 05 December 2018

The persistent gap between female and male labour force participation comes at a significant economic cost. This column argues that because women and men complement each other in the production process, the economic benefits from gender diversity are likely to be larger than suggested by previous studies. Gender complementarity also has important implications for the welfare costs from barriers to female labour force participation. The case for gender equity is even more compelling and pressing.

Martín González Rozada, Eduardo Levy Yeyati, 07 September 2018

It is often assumed that the gender wage gap is driven by a demand bias. Using a large new dataset of job applications in Argentina, this column demonstrates that there is also supply bias – women ask for less pay than men for the same exact job. The analysis shows that this ‘ask gap’ is related to the job’s level, the occupation’s degree of female/male dominance, and the applicant’s age, and suggests that women may be acting on internalised stereotypes of the labour market.

Bertrand Garbinti, Jonathan Goupille-Lebret, Thomas Piketty, 05 September 2018

France is often considered to be an equalitarian country with a low level of inequality. Of course, this is true when compared to the United States, where inequality has skyrocketed recently. But the fact remains that France has also experienced a sharp rise in inequality. This column combines data from different sources to construct distributional national accounts and show the limits of the French myth of egalitarianism.

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