Oil, Islam, and Women

There is a new article [paywall] in the most recent issue of the American Political Science Review written by Michael L. Ross entitled “Oil, Women, and Islam.” Ross has written a lot about the nexus between resources and regime type, the so-called “resource curse” phenomenon. In this article, Ross argues that the well-known empirial link between lack of women’s rights and Islam washes away once controls related to oil production are incorporated into statistical models. (Note that the analysis is restricted to the Middle East.)

Here is the abstract and a couple of his charts:

Women have made less progress toward gender equality in the Middle East than in any other region. Many observers claim this is due to the region’s Islamic traditions. I suggest that oil, not Islam, is at fault; and that oil production also explains why women lag behind in many other countries. Oil production reduces the number of women in the labor force, which in turn reduces their political influence. As a result, oil-producing states are left with atypically strong patriarchal norms, laws, and political institutions. I support this argument with global data on oil production, female work patterns, and female political representation, and by comparing oil-rich Algeria to oil-poor Morocco and Tunisia. This argument has implications for the study of the Middle East, Islamic culture, and the resource curse.