Front Matter
Author: Can Sever1
  • 1 0000000404811396https://isni.org/isni/0000000404811396International Monetary Fund

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© 2022 International Monetary Fund

WP/22/155

IMF Working Paper

African Department

Legal Gender Equality as a Catalyst for Convergence

Prepared by Can Sever*

Authorized for distribution by Edward Gemayel

July 2022

IMF Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in IMF Working Papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.

ABSTRACT: The unequal treatment of women in the law is one of the most visible forms of gender inequality. Prevalent legal constraints on the basis of gender prevent women, and thereby economies, from reaching their true potential. In this regard, this paper (i) documents the evolution of gender discriminatory laws around the globe, and (ii) sheds light on the role of legal gender equality in income convergence across countries. It shows that despite the remarkable progress toward gender equality in the law over the last five decades, the legal environment across the world is still far from providing a level playing field for women. Moreover, cross-country gaps in gender discriminatory laws have persisted and even widened over the years, meaning that some countries have lagged behind the progress in repealing the laws that act as a barrier to women’s economic inclusion. Based on a global sample since the 1970s, this paper finds that greater gender equality in the law facilitates cross-country income convergence over time. The results call for action and provide a reason to be optimistic going forward. They imply that legal reforms supportive of gender equality, which could indeed be actionable in the shorter term, help poorer countries catch up with the living standards in the advanced economies. These offer a window of opportunity in the post-Covid-19 period, given the adverse effects of the pandemic on economic growth and gender gaps.

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Title Page

WORKING PAPERS

Legal Gender Equality as a Catalyst for Convergence

Prepared by Can Sever1

Contents

  • 1. Introduction

  • 2. Data

  • 3. Stylized Facts

  • 4. Methodology

  • 5. Results

  • 6. Conclusion

  • Appendix

  • References

  • FIGURES

  • Figure 1: Gender discriminatory laws

  • Figure 2: Gender discriminatory laws in different regions

  • Figure 3: Correlation between law indicators

  • Figure 4: Legal gender equality and income convergence

  • Figure A1: Gap between different percentiles of the WBL index

  • TABLES

  • Table 1: Main results

  • Table 2: Control variables

  • Table 3: Alternative explanations

  • Table 4: Alternative definitions of the law score

  • Table 5: Additional checks

  • Table 6: Excluding an indicator of gender discriminatory laws at a time

  • Table 7: Different indicators of gender discriminatory laws

  • Table A1: Description of the variables

  • Table A2: Summary statistics

  • Table A3: Legal gender equality and income convergence in Africa

  • Table A4: Gender equality and income convergence

*

The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management. I thank Ata Can Bertay, Katharine Christopherson, Ljubica Dordevic, Francisca Fernando, Edward Gemayel, Juliet Johnson, Sergii Meleshchuk, Monique Newiak, Rasmane Ouedraogo, Catherine Pattillo, Marcos Poplawski Ribeiro, Hannah Sheldon, Audrey Yiadom, and my colleagues at the IMF for insightful discussions and valuable comments. All errors are my own.

1

The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management. I thank Ata Can Bertay, Katharine Christopherson, Ljubica Dordevic, Francisca Fernando, Edward Gemayel, Juliet Johnson, Sergii Meleshchuk, Monique Newiak, Rasmane Ouedraogo, Catherine Pattillo, Marcos Poplawski Ribeiro, Hannah Sheldon, Audrey Yiadom, and my colleagues at the IMF for insightful discussions and valuable comments. All errors are my own.

Legal Gender Equality as a Catalyst for Convergence
Author: Can Sever