WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN, CAPITALISM OR DEMOCRACY?

July 14, 2008

Capitalism and democracy are both known to improve the well-being of women.  But which is more important?  The evidence suggests that institutional reforms that move an economy closer to capitalism have a greater positive influence on the well-being of women, says Michael D. Stroup, a professor of economics and associate dean at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Several indices exist for measuring the economic freedom of a society.  One of the most popular is the Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom Index (EFI).   It uses objective data to rate more than 120 countries, from 1975 to the present.  Academic studies have shown that a country's economic freedom has positive effects on many measures of economic progress, including investment, growth and income.

In countries with comparatively high levels of both economic and political freedom:

  • A one-point increase in a country's EFI score raises women's life expectancy by 1.2 years.
  • A one-point increase in a country's EFI score raises women's literacy rate 3.9 percent.
  • When compared to males, a one-point increase in a country's EFI score raises the proportion of female secondary school students by 2.4 percent, but has no significant effect on the labor force ratio.

In countries with comparatively low levels of both economic and political freedom:

  • A one-point increase in a less-free country's EFI score raises women's life expectancy by 1.2 years (the same as in economically and politically freer countries.
  • A one-point increase in a less-free country's EFI score has a greater effect on the literacy rate among women than it does in freer countries, increasing women's literacy 4.25 percent.
  • In comparison to males, a one-point increase in a less-free country's EFI score raises the proportion of female secondary school students by 3.1 percent and the proportion of females in the labor force 1.3 percent.

Source: Michael D. Stroup, "Which Is More Important for Women, Capitalism or Democracy?" National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No. 621, July 14, 2008. 

For text:

http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba621/ 

 

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