Men and women in office.

Why Gender Parity Matters

A new study estimates that the cost of gender inequality is even higher than previously thought – with far-reaching consequences. While reaching gender parity will be no easy feat, it is vitally important, both to improve outcomes for women and girls, and to advance economic development and prosperity for all.

BERKELEY – The high cost of gender inequality has been documented extensively. But a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that it is even higher than previously thought – with far-reaching consequences.

The McKinsey study used 15 indicators – including common measurements of economic equality, like wages and labor-force participation rates, as well as metrics for social, political, and legal equality – to assign “gender parity scores” to 95 countries, accounting for 97% of global GDP and 93% of the world’s women. Countries also received scores for individual indicators.

Unsurprisingly, high scores on social indicators correspond with high scores on economic indicators. Moreover, higher gender-parity scores strongly correlate with higher levels of development, as measured by GDP per capita and the degree of urbanization. The most developed regions of Europe and North America are closest to gender parity, while the still-developing region of South Asia has the furthest to go. Within regions, however, there are significant disparities, owing partly to differences in political representation and policy priorities.

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