Social norms as a barrier to women’s employment in developing countries

Jayachandran, Seema. “Social Norms As A Barrier To Women’s Employment In Developing Countries” , WIDER Working Paper 2019/74 Helsinki: UNU-WIDER, 2019.


This paper discusses cultural barriers to women’s participation and success in the labor market in developing countries. I begin by describing how gender norms influence the relationship between economic development and female employment, as well as how gender norms differ substantially across societies at the same level of economic development. I then discuss in more detail specific gender-related social norms and how they constrain women’s employment. I present examples of policies aimed at dismantling these cultural barriers to female employment and the impacts they have.

Gender and returns to entrepreneurship in Africa

Agyire-Tettey, F., Ackah, C.G. and Asuman, D. (2018), “Gender and returns to entrepreneurship in Africa“, International Journal of Economics, Vol. 45 No. 12, pp. 1609- 1630.


The purpose of this paper is to assess determinants of returns to male and female entrepreneurship in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda at selected quantiles along the distribution, as well as examine gender gaps in returns to entrepreneurship and factors contributing these gaps.,Employing a unique data set collected in the three countries on entrepreneurial motivations, constraints and performance, the authors apply unconditional quantile regression technique to assess the determinants of returns to entrepreneurship at various quantiles along the distribution. Additionally, the authors employ decomposition techniques to assess gender gaps in returns to entrepreneurship at various points along the distribution. The data contain extensive information on entrepreneur’s personal characteristics, including parental background and household composition and structure.,The study finds substantial differences in determinants of returns to male and female entrepreneurship along the distribution, with firm asset increasing returns to entrepreneurship. There is also the presence of gender gaps in returns to entrepreneurship at the lower-end of distribution, however, gaps disappear at the upper tail of the distribution, indicative of sticky floors in returns to entrepreneurship in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. The authors also find gender bias against female entrepreneurship in the three countries, as unobserved characteristics largely responsible for the gender gaps in entrepreneurial returns.,This work has been undertaken by the authors and has not been carried out by any other person. The study will add to the existing literature on gender and returns to entrepreneurship.

Rule of Law and Female Entrepreneurship

Nava Ashraf,Alexia Delfino, Edward L. Glaeser. “ Rule of Law and Female Entrepreneurship ” (October 2019). National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper Series, number 26366.


Commerce requires trust, but trust is difficult when one group consistently fears expropriation by another. If men have a comparative advantage at violence and there is little rule-of-law, then unequal bargaining power can lead women to segregate into low-return industries and avoid entrepreneurship altogether. In this paper, we present a model of female entrepreneurship and rule of law that predicts that women will only start businesses when they have both formal legal protection and informal bargaining power. The model’s predictions are supported both in cross-national data and with a new census of Zambian manufacturers. In Zambia, female entrepreneurs collaborate less, learn less from fellow entrepreneurs, earn less and segregate into industries with more women, but gender differences are ameliorated when women have access to adjudicating institutions, such as Lusaka’s “Market Chiefs” who are empowered to adjudicate small commercial disputes. We experimentally induce variation in local institutional quality in an adapted trust game, and find that this also reduces the gender gap in trust and economic activity.