The Durable Effects of Gender Policies: Social Change in Arab Countries - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

In a nutshell

  • Gender inequality constrains the economic development of Arab countries.
  • The level of gender inequality varies significantly between Arab countries, and depends, inter alia, on state policies concerned with female education, labor force participation, legal recognition, and protection.
  • The position of women has fluctuated significantly in the recent history of Arab states; women had more rights in states that deployed secular (pan-Arab, nationalist) ideology in the post-colonial period.
  • Citizens of such countries who were in their “formative years” (15-25 years old) in that period support gender equality until now and are the most egalitarian generation in their societies.
  • The most patriarchal Arab states have never experienced gender egalitarian policies (or secular regimes). Their youth is slightly more gender egalitarian than the elderly, but the change between generations is a lot smaller compared to the rest of the world.
  • The policies that support female education and labor force participation and protect female legal rights have a durable, although not immediate, effect that can be traced decades after their implementation; they change the attitudes, values, and life opportunities of a whole generation, even if they last for only a decade or slightly more.
  • The policy effect gets particularly strong when the members of the affected generation reach their prime age and become politically powerful.

Veronica Kostenko

Research Fellow at the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (Higher School of Economics, Russia)


Eduard Ponarin

Professor at the Higher School of Economics, Russia



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