Hostname: page-component-797576ffbb-6mkhv Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-12-01T15:18:05.436Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Oil, Islam, and Women

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2008

University of California, Los Angeles
Michael L. Ross is Associate Professor, UCLA Department of Political Science, Box 951472, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (


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.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Amin, Sajeda, Diamond, Ian, T Naved, Ruchira, and Newby, Margaret. 1998. Transition to Adulthood of Female Garment-factory Workers in Bangladesh. Studies in Family Planning 29 (June): 185200.Google Scholar
Amsden, Alice H. 1989. Asia's New Giant: South Korea and Late Industrialization. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Anker, Richard. 1997. Theories of occupational segregation by sex: An overview. International Labour Review 136 (Autumn): 315–39.Google Scholar
Assaad, Ragui. 2004. Why Did Economic Liberalization Lead to Feminization of the Labor Force in Morocco and De-feminization in Egypt? Working Paper, University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
Auty, Richard M. 2003. Third time lucky for Algeria? Integrating an industrializing oil-rich country into the global economy. Resources Policy 29 (March): 3747.Google Scholar
Baldez, Lisa. 2004. Elected Bodies: The Adoption of Gender Quota Laws for Legislative Candidates in Mexico. Legislative Studies Quarterly 29 (May): 231–58.Google Scholar
Baslevent, Cem, and Onaran, Ozlem. 2004. The Effect of Export-Oriented Growth on Female Labor Market Outcomes in Turkey. World Development 32 (August): 1375–93.Google Scholar
Baud, Isa. 1977. Jobs and Values: Social Effects of Export-Oriented Industrialization in Tunisia. In Industrial re-adjustment and the international division of labour. Tilburg (The Netherlands): Development Research Institute.Google Scholar
Beegle, Kathleen, Frankenberg, Elizabeth, and Thomas, Duncan. 2001. Bargaining Power within Couples and Use of Prenatal and Delivery Care in Indonesia. Studies in Family Planning 32 (June): 130–46.Google Scholar
Blaydes, Lisa, and Linzer, Drew A. 2006. The Political Economy of Women's Support for Fundamentalist Islam. Working paper, Department of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
Bolt, Katharine, Matete, Mampite, and Clemens, Michael. 2002. Manual for Calculating Adjusted Net Savings. In Environment Department, World Bank. Washington DC.Google Scholar
BP. 2006. BP Statistical Review of World Energy. London: BP.Google Scholar
Brand, Laurie A. 1998. Women, the State, and Political Liberalization. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Brewster, Karin, and Rindfuss, Ronald. 2000. Fertility and Women's Employment in Industrialized Nations. Annual Review of Sociology 26: 271–96.Google Scholar
Burns, Nancy, Schlozman, Kay Lehman, and Verba, Sidney. 2001. The Private Roots of Public Action: Gender, Equality, and Political Participation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Caul, Miki. 2001. Political Parties and the Adoption of Candidate Gender Quotas: A Cross-National Analysis. Journal of Politics 63 (November): 1214–29.Google Scholar
Charrad, Mounira. 2001. States and Women's Rights: The Making of Postcolonial Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Chattopadhyay, Raghabendra, and Duflo, Ester. 2004. Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India. Econometrica 72 (September): 1409–43.Google Scholar
Chhibber, Pradeep. 2003. Why Are Some Women Politically Active? The Household, Public Space, and Political Participation in India. In Islam, Gender, Culture, and Democracy, Inglehart, R.. Willowdale, ON: de Sitter.Google Scholar
Choucri, Nazli. 1986. The Hidden Economy: A New View of Remittances in the Arab World. World Development 14 (June): 697712.Google Scholar
Collier, Paul, and Hoeffler, Anke. 2004. Greed and Grievance in Civil War. Oxford Economic Papers 56 (October): 663–95.Google Scholar
Corden, W. M., and Neary, P. J.. 1982. Booming Sector and De-industrialization in a Small Open Economy. The Economic Journal 92 (December): 825–48.Google Scholar
Engels, Friedrich. 1978 (1884). The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. In The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Tucker, R. C.. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
Fearon, James D., and Laitin, David D.. 2003. Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War. American Political Science Review 97 (March): 7590.Google Scholar
Fish, M. Stephen. 2002. Islam and Authoritarianism. World Politics 55 (October): 437.Google Scholar
Frederiksen, Elisabeth Hermann. 2007. Labor Moblility, Household Production, and the Dutch Disease. Working Paper, University of Copenhagen.Google Scholar
Gelb, Alan, and Associates. 1988. Oil Windfalls Blessing or Curse? New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Goldman, Marshall I. 1980. The enigma of Soviet petroleum: half-full or half-empty? Boston: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
Hansen, Susan B. 1997. Talking About Politics: Gender and Contextual Effects on Political Proselytizing. Journal of Politics 59 (February): 73103.Google Scholar
Horton, Susan. 1999. Marginalization Revisited: Women's Market Work and Pay, and Economic Development. World Development 27 (3): 571–82.Google Scholar
Inglehart, Ronald, and Norris, Pippa. 2003a. The True Clash of Civilizations. Foreign Policy 135: 6270Google Scholar
Inglehart, Ronald, and Norris, Pippa. 2003b. Rising Tide. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Inkeles, Alex, and Smith, David H.. 1974. Becoming Modern. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Isham, Jonathan, Woolcock, Michael, Pritchett, Lant, and Busby, Gwen. forthcoming. The Varieties of the Rentier Experience: How Natural Resource Export Structures Affect the Political Economy of Growth. World Bank Economic Review.Google Scholar
Iverson, Torben, and Rosenbluth, Frances. 2006. The Political Economy of Gender: Explaining Cross-National Variation in the Gender Division of Labor and the Gender Voting Gap. American Journal of Political Science 50 (January): 119.Google Scholar
Jensen, Nathan, and Wantchekon, Leonard. 2004. Resource Wealth and Political Regimes in Africa. Comparative Political Studies 37 (November): 816–41.Google Scholar
Joekes, Susan P. 1982. Female-led Industrialization: Women's jobs in Third World Export Manufacturing—the case of the Moroccan clothing industry. Sussex (UK): Institute for Development Studies.Google Scholar
Kabeer, Naila, and Mahmud, Simeen. 2004. Globalization, Gender, and Poverty: Bangladeshi Women Workers in Export and Local Markets. Journal of International Development 16 (January): 93109.Google Scholar
Landes, David S., and Landes, Richard A.. 2001. Girl Power: Do Fundamentalists Fear Our Women? New Republic. October 8: 2023.Google Scholar
Lerner, Daniel. 1958. The Passing of Traditional Society. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
Mammen, Kristin, and Paxson, Christina. 2000. Women's Work and Economic Development. Journal of Economic Perspectives 14 (Autumn): 141–64.Google Scholar
Michael, Robert T. 1985. Consequences of the Rise in Female Labor Force Participation Rates: Questions and Probes. Journal of Labor Economics 3 (January, part 2): S117S146.Google Scholar
Moghadam, Valentine. 1999. Gender and Globalization: Female Labor and Women's Movements. Journal of World-Systems Research 5 (Summer): 367–88.Google Scholar
Moon, Seungsook. 2002. Women and Democratization in the Republic of Korea. The Good Society 11 (3): 3642.Google Scholar
Nazir, Sameena, and Tomppert, Leigh. 2005. Women's Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Citizenship and Justice. Lanham (MD): Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
Ozler, Sule. 2000. Export Orientation and Female Share of Employment: Evidence from Turkey. World Development 28 (July): 1239–48.Google Scholar
Palley, Marian Lief. 1990. Women's Status in South Korea: Tradition and Change. Asian Survey 30 (December): 1136–53.Google Scholar
Park, Jihang. 1990. Trailblazers in a Traditional World: Korea's First Women College Graduates, 1910–45. Social Science History 14 (Winter): 533–58.Google Scholar
Park, Kyung Ae. 1993. Women and Development: The Case of South Korea. Comparative Politics 25 (January): 127–45.Google Scholar
Reynolds, Andrew. 1999. Women in the Legislatures and Executives of the World. World Politics 51 (July): 547–72.Google Scholar
Ross, Michael L. 2001a. Does Oil Hinder Democracy? World Politics 53 (April): 325–61.Google Scholar
Sachs, Jeffrey D., and Warner, Andrew M.. 1995. Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth. In Development Discussion Paper 517a. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Institute for International Development.Google Scholar
Sapiro, Virginia. 1983. The Political Integration of Women. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
Schlozman, Kay Lehman, Burns, Nancy, and Verba, Sidney. 1999. “What Happened at Work Today?”: A Multistage Model of Gender, Employment, and Political Participation. Journal of Politics 61 (February): 2953.Google Scholar
Sharabi, Hisham. 1988. Neopatriarchy: A Theory of Distorted Change in Arab Society. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Smuts, Robert W. 1959. Women and Work in America. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Stern, Jonathan P. 1980. Soviet Natural Gas Developments to 1990. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
Thornton, Arland, Alwin, Duane F., and Camburn, Donald. 1983. Causes and Consequences of Sex-Role Attitudes and Attitude Change. American Sociological Review 48 (April): 211–27.Google Scholar
United States Geological Survey. Various. Minerals Yearbook. Washington DC: U.S. Department of the Interior.Google Scholar
White, Gregory. 2001. A Comparative Political Economy of Tunisia and Morocco: On the Outside Looking In. Albany: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
World Bank. 2001. Engendering Development. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
World Bank. 2004. Gender and Development in the Middle East and North Africa. Washington DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
World Bank. 2005a. World Development Indicators [CD-ROM]. Washington DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
World Bank. 2005b. The Status and Progress of Women in the Middle East and North Africa. Washington DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
Wuerth, Oriana. 2005. The Reform of the Moudawana: The Role of Women's Civil Society Organizations in Changing the Personal Status Code in Morocco. Hawwa 3 (December): 309–33.Google Scholar
Yoon, Bang-Soon L. 2003. Gender Politics in South Korea: Putting Women on the Political Map. In Confrontation and Innovation on the Korean Peninsula, ed. Institute, K. E.. Washington DC: Korea Economic Institute.Google Scholar