The lack of gender parity in the governance of business corporations has ignited a heated global debate leading policymakers to wrestle with difficult questions that lie at the intersection of market activity and social identity politics. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with corporate board directors in Norway and documentary content analysis of corporate securities filings in the United States, Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity empirically investigates two distinct regulatory models designed to address diversity in the boardroom: quotas and disclosure. The author's study of the Norwegian quota model demonstrates the important role diversity can play in enhancing the quality of corporate governance, while also revealing the challenges diversity mandates pose. His analysis of the U.S. regime shows how a disclosure model has led corporations to establish a vocabulary of “diversity.” At the same time, the analysis highlights the downsides of affording firms too much discretion in defining that concept. This book deepens ongoing policy conversations and offers new insights into the role law can play in reshaping the gendered dynamics of corporate governance cultures.
Rural India has limited employment opportunities beyond seasonal subsistence agriculture. Women face additional challenges to securing sustained employment due to the cultural barriers and household responsibilities that they bear. Kym and Jennifer worked with Evidence for Policy Design and The Indian Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) to assess current government programming and to analyze employment alternatives. They recommend that the Ministry support rural women through evidence-based entrepreneurship programs and independent contracting opportunities. They use the lens of strategic macroeconomic interventions to ensure that any intervention supports long-term economic growth in the region.
Expanding women’ s economic opportunities is critical for meeting the obligations laid out in major human rights conventions and for enhancing countries’ development prospects and eliminating poverty. Realising the potential of all people contributes to productivity and a more resilient society. This matters at the national, community, family and individual levels. As a recent qualitative study of women and men in 20 countries across the world concludes, “women’s ability to work for pay... may be one of the most visible and game-changing events in the life of modern households and all communities.
Microfinance clients were randomly assigned to repayment groups that met either weekly or monthly during their first loan cycle, and then graduated to identical meeting frequency for their second loan. Long-run survey data and a follow-up public goods experiment reveal that clients initially assigned to weekly groups interact more often and exhibit a higher willingness to pool risk with group members from their first loan cycle nearly two years after the experiment. They were also three times less likely to default on their second loan. Evidence from an additional treatment arm shows that, holding meeting frequency fixed, the pattern is insensitive to repayment frequency during the first loan cycle. Taken together, these findings constitute the first experimental evidence on the economic returns to social interaction, and provide an alternative explanation for the success of the group lending model in reducing default risk.
Do the repayment requirements of the classic microfinance contract inhibit investment in high-return but illiquid business opportunities among the poor? Using a field experiment, we compare the classic contract which requires that repayment begin immediately after loan disbursement to a contract that includes a two-month grace period. The provision of a grace period increased short-run business investment and long-run profits but also default rates. The results, thus, indicate that debt contracts that require early repayment discourage illiquid risky investment and thereby limit the potential impact of microfinance on microenterprise growth and household poverty.
Financial stress is widely believed to cause health problems. However, policies seeking to relieve financial stress by limiting debt levels of poor households may directly worsen their economic well-being. We evaluate an alternative policy – increasing the repayment flexibility of debt contracts. A field experiment randomly assigned microfinance clients to a monthly or a traditional weekly installment schedule (N = 200). We used cell phones to gather survey data on income, expenditure, and financial stress every 48 hours over seven weeks. Clients repaying monthly were 51 percent less likely to report feeling “worried, tense, or anxious” about repaying, were 54 percent more likely to report feeling confident about repaying, and reported spending less time thinking about their loan compared to weekly clients. Monthly clients also reported higher business investment and income, suggesting that the flexibility encouraged them to invest their loans more profitably, which ultimately reduced financial stress.
Female “empowerment” has increasingly become a policy goal, both as an end to itself and as a means to achieving other development goals. Microfinance in particular has often been argued, but not without controversy, to be a tool for empowering women. Here, using a randomized controlled trial, we examine whether access to and marketing of an individually held commitment savings product lead to an increase in female decision-making power within the household. We find positive impacts, particularly for women who have below median decision-making power in the baseline, and we find this leads to a shift toward female-oriented durables goods purchased in the household.
I elicit causal effects of spousal observability and communication on financial choices of married individuals in the Philippines. When choices are private, men put money into their personal accounts. When choices are observable, men commit money to consumption for their own benefit. When required to communicate, men put money into their wives' account. These strong treatment effects on men, but not women, appear related more to control than to gender: men whose wives control household savings respond more strongly to the treatment and women whose husbands control savings exhibit the same response. Changes in information and communication interact with underlying control to produce mutable gender-specific outcomes.
In stark contrast to bank debt contracts, most micro-finance contracts require that repayments start nearly immediately after loan disbursement and occur weekly thereafter. Even though economic theory suggests that a more flexible repayment schedule would benefit clients and potentially improve their repayment capacity, micro-finance practitioners argue that the fiscal discipline imposed by frequent repayment is critical to preventing loan default. In this paper we use data from a field experiment which randomized client assignment to a weekly or monthly repayment schedule and find no significant effect of type of repayment schedule on client delinquency or default. Our findings suggest that, among micro-finance clients who are willing to borrow at either weekly or monthly repayment schedules, a more flexible schedule can significantly lower transaction costs without increasing client default. (JEL: O12, O16, O22)
This paper seeks to focus attention on the challenge of decent work for the working poor in the informal economy. The findings presented here are based on recent analyses of national data in a cross-section of developing countries. The data illustrate the multi-segmented structure of the labour force - both formal and informal - and the average earnings and poverty risk associated with working in the different segments. Special attention is paid to the differential location of the working poor, both women and men, in multi segmented labour markets. The paper argues that there is a need to reorient economic policies to promote more and better employment in order to reduce poverty; improve national employment statistics to capture all forms of informal employment; rethink economic models of labour markets to incorporate self-employment and all forms of waged labour; and increase the representative voice of workers - especially informal workers, both women and men- in the processes and institutions that determine economic policies and formulate the "rules of the (economic) game
Globalization presents threats to and opportunities for women working in the informal sector. The paper, which draws on the work of Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) Global Markets Program and of HomeNet, focuses on women home-based workers and analyzes, within the framework of global value-chains, the impact of globalization on labor relations and other market transactions. The chains reviewed are: manufactured goods (fashion garments); agricultural products (nontraditional exports); and nontimber forest products (shea butter). The paper shows how this form of analysis helps to identify the uneven distribution of power and returns within the chains – between rich and poor and between women and men. It concludes by emphasizing the importance of the work of the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), HomeNet, and StreetNet in organizing home-based workers, both locally and internationally, as well as that of WIEGO in supporting them.