Oil, Islam, women and Pierson

By Lisa Staadegaard

In his paper Oil, Islam and Women Ross argues that oil can be held accountable for inequality in resource rich countries. Part of this theory is that the effects that resources, and in particular oil and minerals, have on the economy causes women to refrain from entering or leave the labour force.

In his explanation of this theory he portrays women’s influence on the labour force, and the influence this has on society.  He states that more female participation in the labour force will cause fertility rates to drop which will then in turn cause for a decline in population growth.

If we apply this example to Pierson’s theories about long term processes we can pin point several aspects of this example that break down its process. The female participation has an immediate effect on fertility rates, once one woman enters the labour force her fertility drops. Therefore this process can be seen as cumulative, more and more women entering the labour force will result in lower and lower fertility rates, which directly relates to a decline in population growth.  

However there is a clear relationship between women entering the labour force and this causing population growth to decline. So this cumulative process leads to an inevitable outcome, making this process according to Pierson; structural determination.

However the process described can have several different explanations, in line with Ross his paper this could be moving away from an economy solely based on the nontradable sector.  Once this is included in the model we might relate the process to an entirely different long term process as described by Pierson. Therefore I think that Pierson’s way of analysing processes, is mainly helpful to break down the entire process of cause and effect. This instead of pin pointing whether one process necessarily belongs to a certain type.