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April 17, 2014



Well, surely women are "unusual" in that they are around 50% of the population?

As such, the difference between them being largely excluded from the (skilled) workforce or not has a big impact on economies.

Big enough even for economists to notice.

Dave Timoney

In answer to your closing question, because women can inherit wealth.

In a society where women can (while unmarried) own property, and law and custom allow some independence over their choice of husbands (or an acceptance of spinsterhood), it is in the interests of men to cultivate pro-female attitudes.

This is easily diverted into sexist forms, e.g. the praise of femininity and the maternal (cf Kate Middleton), but it does open up space for the toleration and respect of women's interests.


@ Metatone - the poorest 50% of all people are also around 50% of the population, and are also largely excluded (by virtue of lack of skill) from the skilled workforce.


The three possibilities you list are not exactly mutually exclusive (or at least 1 and 3 are not - I'm too tired just now to decide whether I think 2 precludes 1 and 3 also being true.).


@ Patrick - thy're not supposed to be exclusive, Different mechanisms can coexist.


You could add to your list of possibilities that developed countries are more likely to experience (or have experienced in the course of becoming 'developed') tight labour markets, which create strong incentives to allow and encourage women to work. Once the cultural shift has happened, it can't easily be reversed. WWI and post-WWII full employment policies did that for Britain, but poorer countries have not yet experienced anything similar.


Why is women's equality different? Aside from being by far the largest disadvantaged group, they're also usually the last to get rights. By that time the social change has to be deep and pervasive enough to be meaningful.

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