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Gender Inequality and the Rule of Law


This study examines the hypothesis that adherence the rule of law is a cross-cutting determinant of gender inequality. We gathered data from previously published sources to calculate the correlation between gender inequality and the rule of law, using a cross-sectional and ecological design. Data was collected between 2017 and 2019 from United Nations (gender inequality, health, and economic data); political freedom from Freedom House; income inequality from the World Bank; and adherence to the rule of law from the World Justice Project. We found an association between gender inequality and adherence to the rule of law, controlling for economic inequality, population, GDP per capita, health expenditure per capita, education, ethnolinguistic fractionalization, and political rights and civil liberties. While the design of the study does not permit causality to be inferred, we propose here three plausible causal mechanisms, borne out in other studies, which suggest it: (1) weak enforcement of rights; (2) legal frameworks that tolerate violence against women; and (3) corruption.

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  1.,decisions%20are%20credible%20and%20legitimate. Accessed 26 March 2022.

  2. Gender Inequality Index | Human Development Reports ( Accessed 27 June 2022.

  3. The Gini Index is a summary measure of income inequality. See Accessed 26 March 2022.

  4. Accessed 26 March 2022.

  5. This analysis follows in part the framework developed in A.M. Pinzon-Rondon et al, 2015.

  6. From Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work, Report of the Secretary-General, E/CN.6/2017/3, December 2016.

  7. See, e.g., Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws; Hamilton, Madison and Jay, Federalist Papers.



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This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. It was produced with computers and statistical software belonging to Universidad del Rosario, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and Columbia University.

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Correspondence to Juan Carlos Botero.

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Barajas-Sandoval, E., Botero-Pinzón, H., Botero, J.C. et al. Gender Inequality and the Rule of Law. Hague J Rule Law 15, 95–107 (2023).

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