Friday, March 5, 2021
Adam Chilton & Mila Versteeg, The Effect of Constitutional Gender Equality Provisions,
During the second-half of the twentieth century, provisions guaranteeing gender equality became a common feature of national constitutions. In that same period, de facto gender equality noticeably improved around the world. It is not clear, however, whether these trends are related. We explore the relationship between constitutional gender equality provisions and de facto gender equality using three different research methods: (1) cross-country regressions using data on national constitutions and gender equality; (2) a natural experiment made possible by the forced inclusion of a gender equality provision in Japan’s constitution; and (3) a survey experiment conducted in Japan on the effect of information on Japan’s legal obligations and support for reforms that would improve gender equality. Across all three methods, we find no evidence that constitutionalizing the right to gender equality translates into improved de facto gender equality. We conclude by offering some suggestive evidence that provisions guaranteeing maternity leave and protecting motherhood may be associated with improved gender equality, but these findings need further investigation.