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Information gaps and de jure legal rights: Evidence from Pakistan

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In this paper, we study a large scale effort to improve the information environment in a key area of legal rights: women’s rights in marriage. The degree of freedom that women enjoy over key life choices such as whether, when and whom to marry and divorce are intrinsically valuable human rights with potentially important economic and welfare consequence. Over the last half century, there has been substantial progress in the law, with some estimates suggesting half of the discriminatory laws worldwide were removed. Despite this, in many contexts, women’s de jure rights over marriage and divorce are substantially more progressive than the de facto practice of
the law. There is very little research on what determines women’s de facto legal rights.

Authors: Erica Field and Kate Vyborny, Duke University

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