Gender in the Economy Indicator


This indicator measures the government’s commitment to promoting gender equality by providing women and men with the same legal ability to access legal and public institutions, own property, go to court, and get a job; and measures the extent to which the law provides girls and women legal protection from violence.

Relationship to Growth & Poverty Reduction

The indicator draws from five areas of the Women Business and the Law report–“Accessing Institutions,” “Using Property,” “Getting a Job,” “Going to Court,” and “Protecting Women from Violence”—each having a unique relationship to growth and poverty reduction:

  • Accessing Institutions: This area explores women’s legal ability to interact with public authorities and the private sector in the same way as men. Studies show that legally sanctioned gender inequality has a significant negative impact on a country’s economic growth because it prevents a large portion the population from fully participating in the economy, thus lowering the average ability of the workforce. 1 When one gender receives fewer legal rights, both the country’s potential labor force and potential pool of entrepreneurs decreases.
  • Using Property: This area analyzes women’s ability to own, control, and inherit property. Owning and having an equal say in their use of property not only increases women’s financial security, but is also associated with their increased bargaining power within the household. 2
  • Getting a Job: This area assesses restrictions on women’s work. Restrictions on working hours, sectors, and occupations limit the range of jobs that women can hold and this lead to occupational segregation and confinement of women to low-paying sectors and activities. 3 Many jobs prohibited for women are in highly paid industries, which can have implications for their earning potential. Further, when women are excluded from “male” jobs in the formal sector, an overcrowding can occur in the “female” informal job sector. This leads to a depression of wages for an otherwise productive group of workers. 4 Research shows that when women have access to employment, investment in children’s health, nutrition, and education often increases, promoting higher levels of human capital. 5
  • Going to Court: This area examines whether women’s testimony in court is given the same evidentiary weight as that of men. Women’s testimonial parity increases equality before the law and protects them in case of legal challenges to contracts and other matters of economic importance where they must give testimony to prove their case. 6
  • Protecting Women from Violence: This area examines laws on domestic violence, sexual harassment, and child marriage. Violence can undermine women’s economic empowerment by preventing employment and blocking access to other financial resources. 7 Research shows the earnings of women in formal wage work who are exposed to severe partner violence are significantly lower than women who do not experience such violence. 8 Similarly, due to the typically large age differences between girls younger than 18 and their husbands, child brides lack bargaining power in the marriage and have less say over their activities and choices, including education and economic activity. 9 Child marriage–through reduced decision-making power, greater likelihood of school dropout and illiteracy, lower labor force participation and earnings, and less control over productive household assets—severely impedes the economic opportunities of young women. 10


The Gender in the Economy indicator utilizes 40 questions from the Women, Business, and the Law initiative of the World Bank and assigns points to the response received for a country on each question. 11


  • 1. Esteve-Volart, Berta. 2004 Gender Discrimination and Growth: Theory and Evidence from India. London School of Economics and Political Science. Klasen, Stephan. 1999. Does gender inequality reduce growth and development? Evidence from cross-country regressions. Working Paper No. 7, Policy Research Report on Gender and Development. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Dollar, David, and Roberta Gatti. 1999. Gender inequality, income, and growth: Are good times good for women? Working Paper No. 1, Policy Research Report on Gender and Development. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Morrisson, Christian and Johannes Jütting. 2004. The impacts of social institutions on the economic role of women in developing countries. Working Paper No. 234. Paris:  OECD Development Centre. Morrison, Andrew, Dhushyanth Raju, and Nistha Sinha. 2007. Gender equality, poverty, and economic growth. Policy Research Working Paper No. 4349. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank Doepke, Matthias, Michele Tertilt, and Alessandra Voena. 2011. The economics and politics of women’s rights. Working Paper.
  • 2. World Bank. 2016. Women, Business, and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
  • 3. World Bank. 2016. Women, Business, and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
  • 4. Blau, Francine. 1996. Where are We in the Economics of Gender? The Gender Pay Gap. NBER Working Paper 5664. Ali, Khadija. 2000. Structural adjustment policies and women in the labour market: Urban working women in Pakistan. Third World Planning Review, 22(10). Fontana, Marzia and Cristina Paciello. 2007. Labour Regulations and Anti-Discrimination Legislation: How Do They Influence Gender Equality in Employment and Pay? Sussex: Institute of Development Studies.
  • 5. Kennedy, E. and P. Peters. 1992. Household food security and child nutrition: the interaction of income and gender of household head. World Development, Vol. 20, Issue 8, August 1992: 1077-1085. Hoddinott, John, and Lawrence Haddad. 1995. “Does Female Income Share Influence Household Expenditures? Evidence From Cote D’Ivoire.” Oxford Bulletin of Economics & Statistics 57 (1): 77 – 96. World Bank. 2001. Engendering Development through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice. ISBN 0-19-521596-6. Ranis, Gustav, Frances Stewart and Alejandro Ramirez. 2000. Economic growth and human development. World Development, 28(2): 197-219. Thomas, Duncan. 1990. Intra-household resource allocation: An inferential approach. The Journal of Human Resources, 25(4): 635-664.
  • 6. Klerman, D. 2006. Legal Infrastructure, Judicial Independence, and Economic Development. Center in Law, Economics and Organization Research Paper Series and Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Research Paper No. C06-1, at 1, 4. Univ. S. Cal. Ctr. In Law Econ. & Org. World Bank. 2016. Women, Business, and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
  • 7. World Bank. 2016. Women, Business, and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
  • 8. Klugman, J., Hanmer, L., Twigg, S., Hasan, T., McCleary-Sills, J., and Santamaria, J. 2014. Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity. Washington, D.C.: World Bank. World Bank. 2016. Women, Business, and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
  • 9. UNICEF. 2005. Early Marriage: A Harmful Traditional Practice a Statistical Exploration. New York, N.Y.: UNICEF. World Bank. 2016. Women, Business, and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
  • 10. Parsons, E., Kes A., Petroni, S., Sexton M., and Wodon Q. 2015. Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: A Review of the Literature. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development: Taylor & Francis. Duflo, E. 2011. Women’s Empowerment and Economic Development. Cambridge: National Bureau of Economic Research. Wodon, Q., Nguyen, M.C., and Tsimpo, C. 2016. Child Marriage, Education, and Agency in Uganda. Feminist Economics 22:1, 54-79
  • 11. For more detailed methodology of the Gender in the Economy indicator, please refer to the Data Notes for Fiscal Year 2019.