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property rights

Why does the legal environment matter for women’s access to capital?

When asked about what she thought was key in advancing women’s rights, Cherie Blair, lawyer and founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, replied, “I believe that actually financial independence is very important so we need a financial framework that recognizes women as equals, that enables them to have access to finance, access to capital to have their own financial independence.”  For women in the developing world, property rights can be a factor in getting access to finance. (Credit: World Bank Photos)

And this brings to the table another question: What are the hurdles that women face when trying to access capital?

For many women entrepreneurs across the world, getting a loan to start or expand their business can prove challenging. This is particularly true in the developing world where banks often require borrowers to pledge their home or land as collateral. Women, who tend to lack such assets, are placed at a disadvantage. Legal restrictions on women’s property rights can exacerbate the problem.

China's revolution in access to finance

Ryan Hahn's picture

China looks set to see a boom in access to finance since the passage in 2007 of the Property Rights Law. Last week, the Financial Times reported on the newfound ability of farmers to monetise their land. Some farmers are selling to larger, more efficient companies, while others are taking advantage of the opportunity to use their land as collateral:

The Access to Justice Programme in Pakistan

Mohammad Amin's picture

To reduce the enormous backlog of court cases, Pakistan enacted the “Access to Justice Programme” in 2002. Case-flow management techniques were taught to judges in 6 pilot districts out of 117, with the aim of facilitating rapid case disposal. Beyond this immediate aim, a more efficient judiciary can also have important economic effects by, for example, providing more secure property rights and better enforcement of creditor rights.

Do we need to worry about enforcement of laws?

Mohammad Amin's picture

It goes without saying that rules, laws and regulations are meaningless if they are not enforced. Yet, the bulk of the literature on the effects of various laws is completely silent on the enforcement issue. The implicit assumption is that measures based on laws on the books are a reasonably good proxy for actual enforcement of laws and so an explicit reference to enforcement is not required. Is there any reason to think this is a plausible assumption?

The heavy hand of regulation and the hidden cost of information

Mohammad Amin's picture

In his presidential address to the American Economic Association, Avinash Dixit (2009) notes that laws and regulations are necessary for security of property rights, enforcement of contracts and overcoming collective action problems – something that the private sector cannot function without. However, laws and regulations are unlikely to have much beneficial effect if private agents are simply not aware of them. How easy is it for firms to obtain information on laws and regulations?

What is missing in development policy debates?

Mohammad Amin's picture

Good policy making – in the development field or in any field for that matter – involves three steps. First, a problem must be identified or a goal needs to be set. Second, policy measures that can take us to the stated goal need to be identified. The third step is to find the “least costly” policy measure, or what is called the “first-best” policy for achieving the goal.

Dutch Disease in the Himalayas?

Arvind Jain's picture

Is Bhutan suffering from an acute case of Dutch Disease? Despite its status as the Shangri-La destination for A-list tourists, Bhutan’s land-locked status and nascent private sector pose enormous challenges for a country that is gradually moving to a more market-based economy. Thinking about this question is enough to transform one Bhutanese MP’s happiness to