This paper provides the first global look at how gender discrimination by the
law affects women’s economic opportunity and charts the evolution of legal inequalities over five decades. Using the World Bank’s newly constructed Women, Business and the Law database, it documents large and persistent gender inequalities, especially with regard to pay and treatment of parenthood. The paper finds positive correlations between more equal laws pertaining to women in the workforce and more equal labor market outcomes, such as higher female labor force participation and a smaller wage gap between men and women.