Month: January 2024


Tackling gender discrimination: Lessons from Tunisian inheritance law

Gender discrimination in inheritance is commonplace in many countries around the world. One example is Tunisia where, in accordance with Islamic inheritance law, women receive a smaller share of a parent’s bequest than men. Reforming inheritance law is notoriously difficult and probably even more so when it is of religious origin. But there may be alternatives. This column presents survey evidence from an experiment which tested how learning about gifting can affect people’s attitudes towards women’s inheritance rights. The study shows that gifting is very common in Tunisia and constitutes an alternative way of tackling gender discriminatory inheritance law. However, it also shows that this second-best solution is only available to a wealthy sub-sample of the population.

Shadowless theocracies: A study of religion and inheritance norms

Theocratic systems often impose strict rules on those living under them. But long-run economic effects can also be felt centuries later. This column presents evidence from the Papal States, using this case study to explore the role of theocracy in shaping future religiosity as well as political preferences. The study shows that where other pre-existing behaviours and attitudes are present, such as the need for collectivism in an agrarian society, the power of the Church is diminished, with its effect on rules and systems becoming less prominent.