Economic gender gap in the Global South: how institutional quality matters

Elena Bárcena-Martín, Samuel Medina-Claros & Salvador Pérez-Moreno


One of the most challenging gender gaps in the Global South remains in the economic sphere. This paper examines how public institutional quality affects the gender gap in economic participation and opportunities in 74 developing and emerging countries during the period 2006-2016. We find that the quality of public institutions is closely associated with the economic gender gap. Specifically, the protection of property rights, security guarantees and government efficiency seem to be the main factors associated to lower values of the economic gender gap. Nevertheless, public institutions do not matter equally throughout economically backward countries. Whereas in emerging countries, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, a broad variety of institutional aspects, including undue influence on judicial and government decisions, are closely related to the economic gender gap, in low-income developing countries, such as Sub-Saharan countries, the problems of ethics and corruption stand out as a key element against economic gender equality. Some significant policy implications are derived from our findings on the potential of public institutions reforms to reduce economic gender gap.

Keywords: economic gender gap, economic participation and opportunities, public institutions, developing and emerging countries

JEL Classification: E02, J16

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