Islam, Asif M.
Development Economics, Enterprise Analysis Group
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Development Economics, Enterprise Analysis Group
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Last updated April 6, 2023
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Unequal before the Law: Measuring Legal Gender Disparities across the World(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-08) Iqbal, Sarah ; Islam, Asif ; Ramalho, Rita ; Sakhonchik, AlenaSeveral economies have laws that treat women differently from men. This study explores the degree of such legal gender disparities across 167 economies around the world. This is achieved by constructing a simple measure of legal gender disparities to evaluate how countries perform. The average number of overall legal gender disparities across 167 economies is 17, ranging from a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 44. The maximum possible legal gender disparities is 71. The measure is found to be correlated with other measures of gender inequality, implying the measure does capture gender inequality while also differing from preexisting measures of gender inequality. A high degree of legal gender disparities is found to be negatively associated with a wide range of outcomes, including years of education of women relative to men, labor force participation rates of women relative to men, proportion of women top managers, proportion of women in parliament, percentage of women that borrowed from a financial institution relative to men, and child mortality rates. Subcategories within the legal disparities measure help to uncover specific types of legal disparities across economies.
Gendered Laws, Informal Origins, and Subsequent Performance(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-08) Hyland, Marie ; Islam, AsifThis research explores the relationship between laws that discriminate on the basis of gender and the probability that a female-owned business begins operating in the informal sector. This is achieved by tracing the origins of formal businesses surveyed in the World Bank Enterprise Surveys and merging this with information on the level of legal equality between genders as measured by the Women, Business and the Law database. In addition, the research explores whether starting a business informally has any differential effect on subsequent firm performance depending on the gender of the owner(s). The results show that gender discriminatory laws increase the likelihood that firms with female owners will begin operations in the informal sector; as expected, this does not hold for enterprises that are solely owned by men. Furthermore, the research provides evidence that firms that began operations informally have poorer performance years later—a relationship that exists both for firms with female owners and for firms fully owned by men. The results show notable variation by region.
Taming Private Leviathans: Regulation versus Taxation(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-01) Arezki, Rabah ; Islam, Asif ; Rota-Graziosi, GregoireThis paper explores the interplay between concentration of wealth and policies, namely regulation and taxation. The paper exploits variation in exposure to international commodity prices. Using a global panel data set of the net worth of billionaires, the results point to a positive relationship between commodity prices and the concentration of wealth at the top. Regulation especially pertaining to competition is found to limit the effects of commodity price shocks on the concentration of wealth, while taxation has little effect. Moreover, commodity price shocks crowd out non-resource tax revenue, hence limiting the scope for income transfers and redistribution. The results are consistent with the primacy of ex ante interventions over ex post ones for addressing wealth inequality.
Discriminatory Environment, Firms' Discriminatory Behavior, and Women's Employment in the Democratic Republic of Congo(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-04) Hyland, Marie ; Islam, Asif ; Muzi, SilviaThis paper contributes to better understanding firms' discriminatory behavior in the presence of gender-based legal discrimination and its linkages with labor market outcomes for women in a developing country setting. Using data collected through the World Bank Enterprise Surveys in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the paper documents the existence of nonnegligible employer discrimination and limitations in women's autonomy in the presence of a discriminatory environment. Interestingly, these are more pervasive outside the capital city, Kinshasa, which suggests that cultural norms or differences in regulation enforcement may be at play. The paper also finds that firms' discriminatory behavior harms women's labor market outcomes, in their representation among the upper echelons of management and participation in the overall workforce. The negative relationship between restrictions from discriminatory behaviors and female employment is particularly strong in the manufacturing sector.