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Women’s political empowerment and economic growth

Sirianne Dahlum, Carl Henrik Knutsen and Valeriya Mechkova

World Development, 2022, vol. 156, issue C

Abstract: We investigate whether and how women’s political empowerment relates to technological change, the main driver of long-term economic growth. We argue that three aspects of empowerment – descriptive representation, civil liberties protection, and civil society participation – advance technological change and thereby economic growth through (a) increasing the number and variability of new ideas introduced in the economy and (b) improving the selection of more efficient ideas. Drawing on data from 182 countries and 221 years, we test various implications from our argument. Women’s political empowerment is positively related to subsequent economic growth. This relationship persists across various model specifications and when accounting for different potential confounders. The three sub-components of empowerment are also, individually, related to growth, although not as strongly as the aggregated concept. The relationship is retained across different contexts, but is clearer for “Non-Western” countries and in earlier time periods. We also find evidence that women’s political empowerment enhances technological change.

Keywords: Gender equality; Women’s empowerment; Economic development; Economic growth; Political economy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2022.105822

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