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Inheritance Law Reform and Women's Access to Capital: Evidence from India's Hindu Succession Act

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This paper examines whether and to what extent amendments in inheritance legislation impact women's physical and human capital investments, using disaggregated household level data from India. The authors use inheritance patterns over three generations of individuals to assess the impact of changes in the Hindu Succession Act that grant daughters equal coparcenary birth rights in joint family property that were denied to daughters in the past. The causal effect is isolated by exploiting the variation in the timing of father's death to compare within household bequests of land given to sons and daughters in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. The analysis shows that the amendment significantly increased daughters'likelihood to inherit land, but that even after the amendment substantial bias persists. The results also indicate a robust increase in educational attainment of daughters, suggesting an alternative channel of wealth transfer.
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... 116 While the underlying social and cultural dynamics are complex, legal reform to improve women's inheritance right could potentially provide a low-cost way to reduce gender discrimination and improve a range of socio-economic outcomes for women. 117 Land ownership enhances women's bargaining strength and decision making power and allows her to challenge the rules that discriminate against her in the use and transformation of land and productive assets, 118 apart from amplifying her status and respect within the family and the community. 119 There is a need to take a plural view of gender inequality, which can have different faces, can vary from one region to another, and also from one period to the next. ...
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Women's economic status and social security is influenced by her ownership and control over immovable property. Since time immemorial framing of all property laws have been exclusively for the benefit of man. Devolution of property under family law is profoundly conditioned by historical legacies, statutory laws, personal laws as is evident in the development of succession laws of Canada and India. Though numerous notions of English succession law became part of both these countries due to prolonged colonial presence, with passage of time, these laws continued to evolve and differ from English law. This paper reflects the changes brought about by modern thought of equality and positive discrimination favoring women's right to property in England, Canada and India. It also analyses the implication of existing statutory provisions, their judicial interpretations and desirous changes that could be brought to improve the social and economic conditions of women.
... This is because women usually experience greater social pressure to take care of their children and are therefore more inclined to stay where they are. Social norms in some countries also mean that women are not considered for inheritance in the family (or have a very limited right), while men are eligible (Deininger et al., 2010;Kutsoati & Morck, 2016). By having less mobility and lacking the financial capacity to relocate, women are often trapped in a place where the pressure and humiliation are higher if they do not repay their loans. ...
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Motivation: Although female clients are the main target of most Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), male-female workforce in microfinance operations is not proportionate. There is a consensus that more female workforce at all hierarchical levels could enhance the financial performance of MFIs thanks to women’s tougher commitments and relatively better managing capacity. Purpose: There is scarce research investigating which hierarchical levels of female workforce contribute to MFIs’ financial performance. This study aims at filling this gap by jointly analyzing the effect of female participation at all hierarchical levels of MFIs, which is relatively rare in the existing literature, especially in microfinance. Approach and Method: We use data of 172 MFIs in Eastern Europe and Central Asian countries (EECA) for the period 1996-2014. The data were then analyzed by ordinary least squares, fixed and random effects models, along with several diagnostic tests. Findings: We find that female board members and female clients positively contribute to the financial performance of MFIs. The literature motivates these outcomes by womens’ better organizational and monitoring techniques, and more responsible use of loans, respectively. Instead, our analysis shows that female managers and loan officers may regress financial performance to some extent, possibly because they face cultural limitations and safety obstacles, resulting in less persuasive and effective than men, especially in the process of collecting arrears payments. Policy Implications: Our study suggests that MFIs in the EECA context may improve their financial sustainability by reconsidering their organizational choices, such as operational recruitment, placing women at the top of the decision-making process. At the lower levels of the hierarchy, particularly loan officers, it would be advisable to support them in the interaction with male customers, so that they can exploit more effective techniques in the loan collection phases. MFIs can also scale up their loan activities to more women since their representation in the client base is relatively low in the EECA region. Keywords: gender equality, workforce, governance, microfinance, microfinance institutions.
... Doss, 2006) 5 . Policy interventions aimed at redistributing land and housing to women can help achieve these outcomes, such as improving women's rights to inherit (Deininger et al., 2010), strengthening institutions that deal with land allocation and ownership enforcement, as well as the mapping and formal registration of land and property (Udry, 2011). ...
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Secure tenure over women’s land and property rights is increasingly considered an important means to promote economic, social and even environmental outcomes. Where gender-unequal tenure security exists, promoting women’s land and property rights is therefore a key component of SDGs 1.4.2 and 5.a.1, which call for gender-equal access and security of resources, including housing and land. Both development goals acknowledge that measuring men and women’s self-perceived tenure security is an important way of monitoring progress, but until recently there has been a lack of consistent and comparative global data on this front. In this paper, we analyse the perception data of 28,132 women and 25,048 men in 33 countries to assess potential gender imbalances. We find that overall, men and women’s perceived tenure security does not differ significantly. However, significant in-country differences exist that can in part be explained by gender-differentiated sources of insecurity. Women are more likely to feel threatened by internal sources of insecurity from within the family or the community, particularly when faced with scenarios of divorce or spousal death over the long-term expected duration of their tenure. Men, in turn, are significantly more likely to cite external sources of insecurity such as government expropriation or private investment in the near- or middle-term. Furthermore, the results of our models suggest that the possession of (named) formal property rights documentation may be effective in protecting both men and women from external threats, but not internal ones. Formalisation of property rights therefore needs to be complemented with measures that tackle the day-to-day denial of women’s rights within families, communities and societies.
... This points towards the need for policy interventions aimed at improving women's rights to inherit and thereby redistribute land and housing to women (see e.g. Deininger et al., 2010). ...
Conference Paper
Executive summary Historically, women in the Middle East and North Africa have been disadvantaged in access and controlling land. In 1999, it was estimated that women's ownership rates in the MENA region were among the lowest in the world at just 5 percent (FAO, 1999). Gender-unequal asset distribution, especially of land and housing, is increasingly recognized as an important impediment to both individual and human development outcomes. Tackling it is therefore a key component of promoting gender equality under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in the Middle East and North Africa. However, the evidence based regarding women's tenure security in the region is relatively thin (see e.g. Doss et al., 2015). SDGs 1.4.2 and 5.a.1, which explicitly refer to women's tenure security, specify the need to track women's legal rights to land and property as well as their perception of those rights 1. Data that captures perceptions of tenure security is increasingly being acknowledged as an envelope for both the actual experience, as well as the legal status, of tenure (see Arnot et al., 2011). It can therefore help reveal where women feel insecure about their tenure, even where they possess the legal right to tenure. This is considered especially important in the MENA region due to the widespread adoption of gender-unequal inheritance law and practices, such as social pressure on daughters and sisters to voluntarily renounce rights to land and property (Ababsa, 2017; Najjar et al., 2020). This paper analyses nationally-representative subjective data from 6,312 women and 7,254 men in 13 countries located in the Middle East and North Africa, and collected as part of the global Property Rights Index (Prindex) Initiative. The findings provide a first insight into the factors that influence the tenure security of women in the region by operationalizing a conceptual framework developed by Doss and Meinzen-Dick (2020). They demonstrate the importance of contextual factors, such as tenure type, age and a low socioeconomic background. The results also confirm that in many parts of the Arab world, women's tenure security is shaped by "internal" threats from actors within the household, the family or the community. The paper concludes by presenting three ways that can help guide further efforts to tackle issues surrounding women's tenure security in the region: (i) gaining a greater understanding of the gender dynamics affecting the high share of renters in the region; (ii) taking into consideration the interplay between demographic and socioeconomic factors and women's tenure security, especially in the Mashreq, and; (iii) paying special attention to internal sources of insecurity from within the family and the community over a longer time horizon. First, without distinguishing the different dynamics underpinning the tenure security of renters and owners (including family-owners), one could underestimate the importance of 1 They include: (i) 1.4.2: Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure; (ii) 5.a.1: (a) Proportion of total agricultural population with ownership or secure rights over agricultural land, by sex; and (b) share of women among owners or rights-bearers of agricultural land, by type of tenure, and; (iii) 5.a.2: Proportion of countries where the legal framework (including customary law) guarantees women's equal rights to land ownership and/or control. issues affecting women's tenure security in the region. Gender gaps appear insignificant overall, with a two percentage point gap between men's (22%) and women's (24%) rates of perceived insecurity. However, these gaps are considerably wider, and up to 8 percentage points for the sample of owners and family-owners in the Maghreb 2 and Mashreq 3 countries. Separating the analysis of tenure security among renters is needed because of the fundamentally different set of dynamics at play, especially gendered patterns of voluntary and involuntary migrations and their causes. These may be political, ethnic, cultural or economic in nature and require further analysis as they lie beyond the scope of the dataset used in this paper. One interesting avenue to explore in the context of women's tenure security is the ability of rental markets as a way of liberating women from the constraints of social and religious norms surrounding the ownership of fixed assets such as land and property. There has, to date, been more of a focus on individual ownership and control of land and property in the region. The results of the analysis confirm that women's rates of individual or joint ownership are as low as 8 percent (22% overall), but provided that rapidly increasing rental markets are affordable, they can offer opportunities to acquire more liquid assets that women may prefer (see Najjar et al., 2020). However, at present tenure security among renters in the region are among the lowest in the world, and should therefore be considered a key priority area for national governments and international development partners. The second important consideration to make when analysing women's tenure security is that context matters. Young women are particularly vulnerable, especially in Egypt, Yemen and Iraq, which contribute to low levels of tenure security for women in the Mashreq region. Low income, unemployment and part-time employment are also important, socioeconomic factors to consider when analysing the tenure security of women in the Mashreq and Maghreb regions. For men, it shows singledom to be associated with low levels of insecurity in many countries. The analysis found that biophysical characteristics, such as urbanicity or the possession of formal documentation, to be less relevant for understanding issues surrounding women's tenure security. Nonetheless, the analysis did not consider institutional context, such as national legal frameworks or informal institutions. Nor did it include community relationships, which may shape the interplay between individual-level characteristics such as age and marital status, and tenure security. These two groups of contextual factors-highlighted in Doss and Meinzen-Dick (2020)-will need to be operationalized using complementary data, including qualitative data at national or subnational level. Third, these contextual factors will need to be linked to the threats and opportunities identified for women's tenure security in the region. As in other parts of the world, women are more likely to cite internal sources of insecurity from within the household or the community than men are, especially in the Mashreq and Maghreb regions. This is linked to 2 Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. 3 Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Algeria the extremely wide disparities between men and women's feelings of tenure security in the event of divorce or spousal death. In Egypt, over 40 percent of married women felt insecure about their land or property in the event of a divorce, compared to just 4 percent of men. Overall, roughly one in three married women felt insecure in such scenarios compared to one in ten men. This points towards the need for policy interventions aimed at improving women's rights to inherit and thereby redistribute land and housing to women (see e.g. Deininger et al., 2010). The impact of unequal inheritance law and practices on women's tenure security also needs to be explored for women who are not married. For instance, it might explain why single women feel insecure in many countries, either because they face having to leave family homes upon marriage, or because they do not have the opportunity to acquire land or property except through marriage. There is also a need to understand other sources of insecurity cited by women, especially financial sources in the GCC countries. To achieve this, the dynamic causal relationships between contextual factors (such as age and income), the action arena (particularly male household heads and community leaders) and the threats identified in this paper (laws and social norms regarding land) will need to be explored at country-level to provide detailed policy proposals. One consideration to draw from our findings is that in some countries, women feel comparatively secure about their tenure in a spousal death scenario. Despite the presence of gender-unequal inheritance law (Women, Business and the Law, 2020), women in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Algeria or Tunisia experience relatively low levels of insecurity. This may be related to differences in social attitudes, types of marriages or the possession of non-fixed assets, and may yield some important lessons for strengthening the tenure security of women in similar scenarios in other countries.
... Naturally, it was less common (6 studies, 5%) for interventions to assign de jure rights without also aligning de facto rights (that is, changing from de facto to only de jure, or from de jure + de facto to just de jure) (Supplementary Table 6). This could happen, for instance, if a new inheritance law gave women inheritance rights, but the law was not fully enforced and recognized within communities 31 . Still fewer studies (3 studies, 2.6%) investigated interventions that aligned de facto rights with pre-existing de jure rights to ensure that communities were aware of and enforced the rights that existed by law. ...
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Land tenure security is increasingly recognized as a foundational element for advancing global sustainable development agendas, but questions remain about how it affects human well-being and environmental outcomes. We identify 117 studies that aimed to estimate the causal effect of land tenure security interventions on these outcomes. Approximately two-thirds of these studies reported positive links between improved tenure security and human well-being or environmental outcomes. Close to half of the studies that examined social and environmental outcomes reported positive impacts on both. The majority of studies assessed government-implemented interventions that statutorily recognized rights through land titling and formalization in the 1990s and 2000s. More research is needed to bolster the body of evidence on the effects of non-technical interventions (for example, capacity building and awareness raising) and the devolution of rights to inform future land policy efforts and accelerate sustainable development.
... men and women. The study also found an increase in female educational attainment and a positive significant impact on age at marriage (Deininger, Goyal, and Nagarajan 2010). Strengthening women's property rights in general may, in turn, improve inheritance rights, as studies on Rwanda's Land Tenure Regularization show; clear delineation of rights on property reduced ambiguity in terms of inheritance of land for legally married women (Ali, Deininger, and Goldstein 2011). ...
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This paper starts by reflecting on the concept and measurement of women’s empowerment and then reviews some of the structural interventions that aim to influence underlying gender norms in society and eradicate gender discrimination. It then proceeds to review the evidence of the impact of three types of interventions—cash transfer programs, agricultural interventions, and microfinance programs—on women’s empowerment, nutrition, or both.
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