Saturday 15 May 2010

Women's empowerment

On page 60 of The Spirit Level, a graph appears showing 'women's status and inequality in rich countries'. According to Wilkinson and Pickett, this graph shows that "there is a tendency for women's status to be better in more equal countries" and that "the link between income inequality and women's status cannot be explained by chance alone."

The graph uses an index of Wilkinson and Pickett's own devising which is impossible to replicate or verify. There is, however, a ready-made index of gender empowerment used by the United Nations. The graph below shows data as displayed in Wilkinson and Pickett's favoured 2006 edition of the UN's Human Development Report.

Plainly there is no correlation with inequality. The Scandinavian countries do better while the two most equal Asian countries do particularly badly. (There is no data for Hong Kong).

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