Country Rankings of Women’s Status: An Alternative Index

Publication Year : 1995

The purpose of the present paper is to formulate a composite index of the status of women and to rank both developed and developing countries on the basis of that index. This index is presented as an alternative or complement to the current status of women index, published by the Population Crisis Committee (PCC) and used by the World Bank and the United Nations, which focuses on indicators measuring health, education, employment, marriage and childbearing, and social equality. The paper argues that these indicators have a poverty-bias and measure women’s status in terms of structural change rather than in terms of their welfare vis-ii-vis men. The PCC index is also based on the implicit assumption that women’s status in developing countries ought to be defined in a similar way as in developed countries, thus including primarily only those indicators which are more relevant for developed countries. To remedy these defects, the paper presents an alternative composite index, hereafter labelled the Alternative Composite (AC) index, based on many more indicators reflecting women’s issues in both developed and developing countries. The results of the statistical analysis show that the ranking of countries based on the AC index is significantly different from the PCC index.