The Effect of a Gender Gap on Country Development: A Literature Review and Econometric Analysis

Elise Christel Rits

Student thesis: Master thesis


As it currently stands, not a single country on earth has achieved true gender equality yet. Thoughgender equality is often considered an intrinsic goal for moral reasons, it can also bring numerous otherbenefits. The most frequently explored effect of gender equality for the wellbeing of countries, is oneconomic growth or GDP. Research has found that narrowing gender gaps increases both these factors.Development can be considered a greater goal than the economic measures mentioned, as it encompasses the overall welfare of a country in more ways than purely financial ones. In short, developmentdescribes the availability of resources in a country, their allocation among the population, and thequality of life for citizens. As such, economic measures are included in the definition of development,in the form of resources.The aim of this thesis is to determine whether gender gaps in economic, education, political and healthfactors affect countries’ development levels, and if so, in what way. In order to answer this question,the research in this thesis is twofold: firstly, a literature review of existing research on the topic,both theoretical and empirical, is presented and discussed. Based on the findings of this research, aneconometric model was developed to investigate the effect of gender gaps on countries’ developmentlevels.The findings of the theoretical literature review showed that gender gaps of all aforementioned varieties are expected to affect a country’s economy negatively. These findings were supported by theempirical literature review, with the exception of the gender gap in health factors, which lacks anyempirical studies on the topic.Two econometric models were developed for this thesis. The first tests the effect of a country’s overallgender gap score on development. The second subdivides the overall gender gap score into the fouraforementioned subcategories, looking at their individual impacts. It was found that overall genderinequality affects development scores negatively, which is the expected effect based on theory and theliterature review. The individual effects of a gender gap in education and politics also influence development negatively, with education having the greatest impact. Gender inequality in economic factorswere found to positively affect development, which is an unexpected finding compared to economictheory and the studies discussed in the literature review. Gender gaps in health factors were found tobe statistically insignificant.Based on the combined findings of the secondary and primary research, policy makers are advised tonarrow gender gaps in all of the aforementioned categories. However, the gender gap in education wasfound in both the literature review and through the model to have the greatest impact on development.Therefore, it is advised this gender gap is eliminated with the greatest urgency.

Educations, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages89
SupervisorsBersant Hobdari