Previous studies of globalization’s effects on women’s rights have mostly focused on employment and wage ratios, but even if women’s earnings improve, they might suffer greater exploitation at work and at home. Further, these studies use general measures of a country’s openness to trade and foreign direct investment (FDI). Does it, however, also matter who one trades with and where one receives FDI from? This article tests the hypothesis that higher women’s economic and social rights in foreign countries with which the domestic country is connected via trade and FDI spill-over into higher rights among the laggards — a phenomenon known as spatial dependence. Analyzing women’s rights over the period 1981 to 2007 in a global sample and samples of countries at different stages of economic development, we find consistent evidence for spill-over effects via trade links, with the exception of a sample of low-income countries. We also find some evidence for similar effects via FDI, but only for economic rights and only in middle-income countries. Globalization does seem to open the door for the empowerment of women through contact between high-standards and low-standard countries
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