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Oil, Islam, Women, and Geography: A Comment on Ross (2008)

Matthew Groh and Casey Rothschild ()

Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 2012, vol. 7, issue 1, 69-87

Abstract: In "Oil, Islam, and Women," Michael Ross (2008a) develops a gendered Dutch Disease theory, which points to oil wealth as a potential explanation for the slow progress towards gender equality in the Middle East. He then presents empirical analysis in support of this theory and concludes that "women in the Middle East are underrepresented in the workforce and in government because of oil — not Islam" (p. 107). This brief comment re-examines Ross's data and finds that they do not justify his conclusion: upon closer examination, his data do not provide evidence that oil rents causally affect female labor force participation rates via the gendered Dutch Disease. We argue that, in fact, his data are as or more consistent with Islam playing an important role in explaining the lagging female labor force participation rates than they are with oil playing an important role.

Date: 2012
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