Property Rights and the Gender Distribution of Wealth in Ecuador, Ghana and India

Full citation: Deere, C. D., Oduro, A., Swaminathan, H. and Doss, C., “Property Rights and the Gender Distribution of Wealth in Ecuador, Ghana and India,” 13 GENDER ASSET GAP PROJECT WORKING PAPER (August 2012). – This paper finds that basic property rights are insufficient, for much depends upon the legal and cultural regimes related to marriage and inheritance. Drawing upon household asset surveys which collected individual level ownership data in Ecuador, Ghana and the state of Karnataka in India, it estimates married women’s share of couple wealth and relate it to whether major household assets are owned individually or jointly during the marriage as well as to different inheritance regimes and practices. In Ecuador, married women own 44 percent, in Ghana, 19 percent, and in Karnataka, nine percent of couple wealth. Ecuador is characterized by the partial community property regime in marriage while inheritance laws provide for all children, irrespective of sex, to be treated equally, rules that are largely followed in practice. In contrast, Ghana and India are characterized by the separation of property regime which does not recognize wives’ contribution to the formation of marital property, and by inheritance practices that are strongly male biased. Reforming marital and inheritance regimes must remain a top priority in many regions of the world if gender economic equality is to be attained. [Threats to Women’s Land Tenure Security and Effectiveness of Interventions – Annotated Bibliography]

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