According to a new report Empowering the Third Billion, it turns out that countries who have enacted proactive and comprehensive policies that empower women in the economy have more empowered women, i.e. policy works. The report by Booz & Co. is featured in the April 2013 Harvard Business Review and was brought to my attention by a review in Forbes. Furthermore, according to the authors, more empowered women also leads to overall improvements in other economic indicators like per capita GDP, infant mortality and access to education. You go, girls,… and then you go, everyone.
Australia is number one. Then the other usual suspects top the list – those terrifying European socialist hell holes that offer things like guaranteed paid maternal/parental leave and more flextime work arrangements – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands. Canada is also in the top ten at number 7. Then the U.S. is way down there at number 30 (way down in relative-OECD terms).
This is important for economic theory because the mainstream textbook version of the economic theory puts forth a model in which the less regulation the better. The economy just wants to operate perfectly and competitively in a way that will lead to the best outcomes for everyone if we just let it! Any attempt to constrain the economy will just be bad news.
However, these indexes show us that policy is not only effective in accomplishing its immediate goals of empowering women, which are really worthy goals despite their impact on overall economic outcomes, but actually these empowerment policies lead to economic outcomes that impact everyone positively.