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.

Danilo Cavapozzi, Marco Francesconi, Cheti Nicoletti, 13 May 2021

Despite a significant reduction in gender differences in the labour market over the last 40 years, they are still present in most advanced economies and do not appear likely to vanish soon. This column analyses the impact of culture, defined by women’s gender role attitudes, on maternal labour market decisions. It finds that social pressure is at least as strong as social learning in influencing labour market behaviour. Once these channels are accounted for, there is no direct effect of peers’ gender identity norms on labour force participation. Disseminating detailed statistics on female labour market outcomes and work attitudes may prove to be a cost-effective way to promote labour market participation, especially among less-educated mothers.

Gaurav Chiplunkar, Pinelopi Goldberg, 19 April 2021

Promoting gender equality in firm ownership is not only beneficial for women, but for the entire economy. This column describes a framework for quantifying the macroeconomic implications of gender-based distortions that affect female entrepreneurship. Applying the model to India suggests that eliminating the barriers to entry, operation, and expansion for female-owned firms could produce significant productivity and welfare gains.

Alex Chernoff, Casey Warman, 02 February 2021

COVID-19 may accelerate the automation of jobs, as employers invest in technology to safeguard against pandemics. This column uses survey data from the US to show that women with medium to low levels of wages and education are at the highest risk of COVID-induced automation.

Claudia Hupkau, Barbara Petrongolo, 23 November 2020

The second lockdown in the UK is raising many questions about the impact on the economy and on society more broadly, including the implications for gender equality in the workplace and at home. This column uses household survey data to show that at the start of the pandemic in the UK, men were slightly more likely than women to be furloughed and to experience earnings losses, but by late summer the gender differential in furlough rates had reversed. Women also provided for a larger share of increased childcare needs on average, although in an important share of households, fathers became the primary childcare providers during the first lockdown. Sectors with a large share of female employment are now subjected to the second lockdown. These changes may have longer-term consequences on gender inequalities if they eventually reshape the reorganisation of work and family life.

Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, Moritz Kuhn, Michèle Tertilt, 30 May 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has hit women’s employment particularly hard, partly because the worst-hit sectors have high female employment shares, but also because schools and daycare closures have forced more mothers to leave their jobs. This column looks at Germany, where 26% of the workforce has children aged 14 or younger, and quantifies the macroeconomic importance of working parents. If schools and daycare centres remain closed as the economy slowly reopens, 11% of workers and 8% of all working hours will be lost to the labour market. Policies to restart the economy must accommodate the concerns of these families.

Morten Bennedsen, Elena Simintzi, Margarita Tsoutsoura, Daniel Wolfenzon, 07 May 2020

Many countries are introducing mandatory wage transparency to address the seemingly intractable gender wage gap, but evidence of its effects on gender pay disparities and firm outcomes has, to date, been limited. To examine the benefits and costs of such policies, this column analyses the wages of firms prior to and following the introduction of Denmark’s 2006 Act on Gender Specific Pay Statistics. Mandatory transparency legislation reduced gender pay disparity, primarily by slowing down the growth of men's wages.

Titan Alon, Matthias Doepke, Jane Olmstead-Rumsey, Michèle Tertilt, 19 April 2020

The lockdowns triggered by COVID-19 are taking a disproportionate toll on women in the labour market, as the sectors with high rates of female employment are experiencing heavier job losses while increased childcare needs during school closures exert an outsized impact on working mothers. Still, this column finds reason to hope that by promoting flexible work arrangements and putting the childcare obligations of both genders into plain sight, the crisis may reduce labour-market barriers in the long run.  

Nobuaki Hamaguchi, Keisuke Kondo, 11 April 2019

Computerisation and robotics have had a profound effect on labour markets. Using data from Japan, this column finds that female workers are more exposed to risks of computerisation than male workers, and that this tendency is more pronounced in larger cities. The results suggest that supporting additional human capital investment alone is not enough as a risk alleviation strategy against new technology. Policymakers need to address structural labour market issues, such as gender biases in career progression and participation in decision-making positions.

Raquel Fernández, 25 April 2018

Attitudes towards women working have changed drastically in the last century. Raquel Fernández discusses her research on how a woman's decision to work is heavily influenced by culture, assessed by the beliefs passed down to children from parents.

Ingvild Almås, Alex Armand, Orazio Attanasio, Pedro Carneiro, 26 March 2016

Most conditional cash transfer programmes around the world target women as the recipients of transfers as a means of empowering them and promoting gender equality. However, the mechanisms at work are poorly understood and empowerment is not well defined or measured. This column discusses a new measure of female empowerment in the household within the context of a national cash transfer programme in Macedonia. Whereas conventional survey questions about power and decision-making don’t reveal any empowerment effects of the programme, this new measure reveals a positive effect.

Alison Booth, Lina Cardona Sosa, 06 February 2012

Some blame women’s under-representation in high-level jobs on differences between the sexes in risk aversion and competitiveness. But are these differences in behaviour hardwired or learned? The authors of CEPR DP8690 tackled this thorny question with a controlled experiment in single-sex and co-educational classrooms. Women, they find, become far less timorous about uncertainty with the men out of the room.

Matthias Doepke, Michèle Tertilt, 20 June 2011

Evidence suggests that putting money in the hands of mothers (as opposed to their husbands) benefits children. Does this mean targeting transfers to women is good economic policy? The authors of CEPR DP8441 find that different forms of empowering women may lead to opposite results. More research is needed to distinguish between alternative theoretical models.

Leo Abruzzese, 26 September 2010

Women’s economic empowerment has been a defining feature of the last century. Yet while women today comprise more than half of the global workforce, their wages and economic opportunities still lag behind those of men. This column takes a closer look at the economic landscape for women and how it compares across countries, using the Economist Intelligence Unit’s new Women’s Economic Opportunity Index as a guide.

Matthias Doepke, 21 November 2008

Matthias Doepke of Northwestern University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research on the emergence of women’s rights and gender equality in England and the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The interview was recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008.

Matthias Doepke, Michèle Tertilt, 26 May 2008

Women in rich countries largely enjoy gender equality while those in poor countries suffer substantial discrimination. This column proposes an explanation for the relationship between economic development and female empowerment that emphasises changes in the incentives males face rather than shifts in moral sentiment. Technological change that raises demand for human capital may give men a stake in women’s rights.

Denis Drechsler, Johannes Jütting, 07 March 2008

Discrimination against women significantly hampers the economic development of many poor countries. This column introduces two new OECD Development Centre efforts to assess and reduce gender discrimination, including a new portal

Gilles Saint-Paul, 09 February 2008

The conservative Spanish Partido Popular has proposed gender-based taxation in line with recent research and several Vox columns by Alberto Alesina and Andrea Ichino. Here one of Europe’s most eminent labour economists makes the counter argument.

Manuel Bagues, Berta Esteve-Volart, 27 July 2007

Many nations are imposing gender quotas on top-level jobs. Recent research suggests that such policies do not have a positive knock-on effect on gender balance in lower positions.

Stefania Albanesi, Claudia Olivetti, 20 July 2007

Medical advances in the early part of the twentieth century, especially those concerning child-bearing, increased the fraction of women’s lives that could be devoted to the labour market. They account for the threefold increase in the labour force participation of married women with children between 1920 and 1970 in the US.



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