**In _Macroeconomic Dynamics_**. This paper examines how the degree of gender-egalitarianism embedded in inheritance rules impacts state building. Male-biased inheritance rules historically maximise the likelihood of dynastic continuity. However, there is more land merging under gender-egalitarian rules. We compare both types of inheritance rules, concluding that, contrary to the literature, gender-egalitarian norms promote state capacity in the short run more than gender-biased norms. In the long run results are reversed.
**Awarded the 'UWIN Best Paper Award on Gender Economics', 7th edition.** **Awarded a 'Valeria Solesin' accessit, 2018 edition.**
**Revise & Resubmit at _Journal of Economic Growth_** This paper is concerned with the historical roots of gender equality. It proposes and empirically assesses a new class of determinants of gender equality: increases in women's bargaining power through reductions in the cost of remaining single. In particular, enlarging women's options besides marriage —even if only temporarily— increases their bargaining power with respect to men, leading to a persistent improvement in gender equality. We illustrate this mechanism focusing on the specific Belgian context, and relate gender-equality levels in the 19th century to the presence of medieval, female-only communities called _beguinages_ that allowed women to remain single amidst a society that advocated the opposite. Combining precise beguinages' location with 19th-century census data, we document that beguinages were instrumental in decreasing the gender gap in literacy.