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 interact with the private and public sector.

Relationship to Growth & Poverty Reduction

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. When women are excluded from “male” jobs in the formal sector, an overcrowding occurs in the “female” informal job sector. This leads to a depression of wages for an otherwise productive group of workers. 2 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. 3


This indicator combines 20 different assessments comparing women’s legal capacity to that of men. When conducting the assessments it is assumed that women have reached the legal age of majority; are sane, competent, in good health, and without a criminal record; and where married, are involved in a monogamous relationship. The legal capacity to execute 10 economic activities is examined: get a job, register a business, sign a contract, open a bank account, choose where to live, get passports, travel domestically and abroad, pass on citizenship to their children, and become heads of households. For the purposes of this indicator, women have the same capacity as men if they are legally able to perform these activities in the same way as men. Women are considered to have less capacity to act if they are not legally able to perform these activities in the same way as men.


  • 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. 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.
  • 3. 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. Engendring 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.