Recent research has given us much better data on the difference in access to formal financial services between men and women. The figure below gives these gaps by region based on the Global Findex dataset. With this evidence for the gender gap, what we really want to know is: what it is about being a woman or man that creates the gap? That is, are these gaps the result of factors such as women having less education, lower incomes and being less likely to have formal employment? Or do they arise from legal factors such as property rights, inheritance rights, gender norms about autonomy, mobility, etc.? Or, perhaps women behave inherently differently and are more risk averse. Or does being a woman matter for another reason, even when all these factors are taken into account? If it does, then we might need to look further for other sources of discrimination in the market. These might include the behaviour of the financial institutions themselves.
Money For Everyone: Why we need a Citizen’s Income. Malcolm Torry. Policy Press. June 2013.
Malcolm Torry proposes in his book a convincing argument in favour of a universal basic income, or Citizen’s Income, defined as an “unconditional income paid by the state to every man, woman and child as a right of citizenship”. His argument is based on the premise that, in an ideal country, one should be entitled to a basic income in order to achieve basic living standards for all. Interestingly, this ideal setting is imagined to be UK-based, a sovereign state where citizens are also subjects, and the argument is then extended to its potential application to the UK system.