Secular Values, Economic Development, and Gender Inequality in a Global Context

In: Comparative Sociology
Peyman Hekmatpour Department of Sociology, University of Oklahoma Norman, Oklahoma USA

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This article investigates how cultural and material factors can explain disparities observed in different forms of gender inequality between and within nations. Using data from multiple sources, the author constructs a panel dataset that includes 150 country-year observations nested in 70 countries, covering 23 years from 1991 to 2013. Through estimating hybrid panel models, this article discovers that more secular countries have lower maternal mortality ratios, higher female labor force participation rates, greater shares of parliamentary seats held by women, higher rates of women with completed secondary education, and smaller shares of the total population who adhere to inequitable gender attitudes. Moreover, from a longitudinal perspective, secularization is the only predictor of declined maternal mortality ratios and increased female parliamentary representation within a country. Interactive models suggest that further secularization within high-income nations can increase maternal mortality ratios. Furthermore, secularization’s equalizing effect on parliamentary representation moderates as countries become more affluent.

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