Economic Freedom and Women’s Well-Being
Consider that women in many places are barred from moving freely within their countries and abroad; face barriers in owning property; cannot register a business in the same way as men; and are unable to open a bank account or obtain loans. Their testimony in court does not carry the same weight as men's; they face restrictions on the number of hours they can work, and the type of profession they are allowed to pursue; and they are unable to enter into contracts in the same way as men.
A 2016 study, Gender Disparity in Legal Rights and Its Effect on Economic Freedom, introduced a Gender Disparity Index that captures the degree to which women around the world have the same legal rights as men using several measures to capture gender disparity, including freedom of movement, property rights, financial rights, freedom to work, and legal status.
The Fraser Institute, which publishes Economic Freedom of the World, has incorporated gender disparity in its 2017 Economic Freedom Index and rankings.
Women and Progress is a project that measures the impact of economic freedom, adjusted for gender disparity, on women’s well-being. When women are free to make their own economic decisions, they are able to live better, wealthier, and healthier lives with greater independence.
Economic and Labour market outcomes
Percentage of Women in Workforce, 2015
Women are more likely to participate in the formal labour market in countries that have high levels of economic freedom. In fact, women are almost twice as likely to participate in the labour market in nations with high levels of economic freedom as in nations with low levels.
Percentage of Women Employed in Vulnerable Occupations, 2015
Individuals who are self-employed or contributing family workers are considered to be employed in a vulnerable occupation. Such vulnerable workers are less likely to have formal labour contracts and more likely to work in undesirable conditions. Women in nations with low levels of economic freedom are almost three times as likely to work in vulnerable occupations as those in nations with high levels.
Percent of Women Who Earned Wages in the Past Year, 2014
The share of women earning wages is three times higher in nations with high levels of economic freedom than it is in other nations. Women living and working in countries that have high levels of economic freedom are more likely to have a stable occupation with a predictable stream of income.
Literacy Rate for Adult Women, 2015
Literacy rates are a good measure of how much a country encourages individuals to acquire an education. The literacy rates for women in countries with high levels of economic freedom are, on average, 50% higher for adults than in countries with low levels.
Financial Independence Outcome
Percentage of Women with an Account at a Financial Institution, 2014
Women who live in countries with high levels of economic freedom are more likely to have a bank account, typically a key element of financial independence, than women living in places where economic freedom is low. Remarkably, less than a third of women living in nations with low economic freedom hold a bank account.