Saturday, March 15, 2008

Goil Power

Michael Ross's new article in American Political Science Review makes a novel argument about the relationship between Islam and gender-inequality in the Middle East. It's not Islam, he writes - it's the oil economy.

The argument in a nutshell:

"Women have made less progress toward gender equality in the Middle East than in any other region. Many observers claim this is due to the region's Islamic traditions. I suggest that oil, not Islam is at fault; and that oil production also explains why women lag behind in many other countries. Oil production reduces the number of women in the labor force, which in turn reduces their political influence. As a result, oil-producing states are left with atypically strong patriarchal norms, laws and political institutions."
Ross supports the argument by comparing data on global oil production, female work patterns and female political representation, and by comparing oil-rich Algeria ro oil-poor Morrocco and Tunisia.

Fascinating. Go check it out.

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