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Discriminatory Laws against Women: A Survey of the Literature

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalWorld Bank Policy Research Working Paper
Published28 Jan 2019


King's Authors


This paper reviews the empirical literature on the existence and impact of gender discriminatory laws on women’s outcomes across various domains (categories) that constitute the Women in Business and the Law measure of gender inequality. The evidence to date suggests that there are significant negative consequences of legal gender discrimination on women’s outcomes. However, there is considerable variation in the depth of the literature across different domains. In addition, a significant share of the evidence for certain domains is drawn from developed countries, which raises questions about its relevance for developing countries. The literature also highlights some potential unintended consequences of well-intended policy interventions to address legal gender discrimination in certain domains. The paper concludes with a discussion of the various theories relating women’s legal rights to their outcomes.

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