According to the World Bank, the true and proper economic emancipation of women would make the world $160 trillion richer. However, this eye-catching figure gets things the wrong way round, confusing cause and effect. In fact, the correct formulation is that if the world were $160 trillion richer then we would have had the economic emancipation of women.
The calculation itself is reasonable enough. Our income is made up of our labour itself and the value added to it by our human capital. The more capital we have the more productive we are. Women are, generally speaking across the world, denied both opportunity and education. Their human capital is therefore lower. And so is their income. If we were to have equality of that income then we might assume that we have equality of human capital, something that would be true in a free market. So, equality would lead to much more human capital out there, and that’s where the extra $160 trillion comes from.
There’s also a small problem here, one which the World Bank ignores. We don’t actually know that this vaunted gender equality would make us richer at all. They have calculated the additional wealth from more female economic participation on gender equal terms. But they agree there’s some amount of living to be done which isn’t monetised in the economy at all. And if women stop doing this, or some of it, then men are presumably going to have to plug the gap. That loss as the men do more of the unpaid labour isn’t included in the World Bank’s number.