Unequal laws and the disempowerment of women in the labor market
Institutions are defined as the set of rules that govern human interactions. When these rules are discriminatory, they may disempower segments of a population in the economic spheres of activity. This study explores whether laws that discriminate against women influence their engagement in the economy. The study adopts a holistic approach, exploring an overall measure of unequal laws also known as legal gender disparities, and relates it to several labor market outcomes for women. Using data for more than 60,000 firms across 104 economies, the study finds that unequal laws not only discourage women's participation in the private sector workforce, but also their likelihood to become top managers and owners of firms. Suggestive evidence indicates that access to finance and corruption are pathways by which legal gender disparities disempower women in the labor market.