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.
The evolution of wealth inequality is driven in part by past political structures. This column presents a case study from Germany, focusing on the history of the southern city-state, Nördlingen. The results of the study highlight how past political elites were able to exploit extreme moments of crisis, such as wars and epidemics, to enrich themselves, driving up wealth inequality. In fact, the extent to which a region had an oligarchic political structure transpires to be a clear driver of wealth inequality trends, today as in the past.