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Fridays Academy: Gender and Economic Growth

Ignacio Hernandez's picture

Like every Friday, from  Raj Nallari and Breda Griffith's lecture notes.

Economic growth and gender inequality

 Stotsky (2006) notes that a number of studies have examined the effect of growth on gender inequality. By aiming to explain gender inequality through economic growth or development, the studies bridge the gap between the economic growth theory approaches – neoclassical and endogenous growth theory – and the Women in Development (WID) and Gender and Development (GAD) approaches. In particular, the study by Forsythe, Korzeniewicz and Durrant (2000) illustrates the relevance of all three approaches to understanding the effect of economic growth on gender equality. 


The authors develop a model in which cross national and time-series data are used to investigate the effect of economic growth on the status of women and gender equality. The dependent variable, gender inequality, is measured using the UN’s GDI (Gender Development Index) and is regressed on income and its quadratic as well as regional dummies and variables for religion. The cross-section study suggests that the Muslim variable is positively related to gender inequality while the Latin American variable is negatively related and the level of economic development is not significant. The time-series study suggests that a curvilinear relationship between the level of economic development and gender inequality. Moreover, countries with the highest level of inequality were more likely to experience the greatest decline in inequality, except in predominantly Muslim countries.


The results support the neoclassical and WID approaches by positing a positive relationship between improvements in gender equality and economic development. Furthermore, the curvilinear relationship is consistent with the WID approach as we outlined earlier. The fact that gender inequality was only significant in the time series study lends support to the GAD approach, highlighting the complex factors that underlie a reduction in inequality.



During the last weeks we have examined the relationship between gender and economic growth on a number of levels. First we examined the evidence that posited a statistical relationship between gender equalities and economic growth. Many studies have focused on the correlation between measures of gender equality and economic growth. A summary of these studies suggest that gender equality measures for education, health, women’s economic rights, women’s marriage rights and women in parliament are all positively linked to economic growth. Moreover, the contrast between females in poor and rich countries is striking with females in poorer countries faring much worse on these indicators of gender equality.  

While the studies provide valuable information, they suggest correlation and not causation. In the case of the latter, it is necessary to model economic growth predicated on these indicators to assess their contribution, if any, to the growth process. We then reviewed the literature on models of economic growth that incorporated gender. The theoretical literature that was reviewed included contributions from the modernization-neoclassical approach, the Women in Development Approach (WID), the critical feminism and development approach (GAD) and endogenous growth theory.


We then turned to an examination of the empirical studies of gender inequalities and economic growth while noting that the simultaneous relationship between gender equality and economic growth made it difficult to fully isolate the effect of gender equality on economic growth given the likely coincidence of variables explaining both growth and gender equality. The review of the empirical literature suggested a three-fold categorizations – those studies that found a positive relationship between gender equality and economic growth; those studies that found a positive relationship between gender inequality and economic growth and those studies in-between that examined facets of gender discrimination that acted as a brake on economic growth and once released, growth ensued. 

We have concluded with a brief overview of the studies that examine the effect of economic growth and gender inequality. This approach brings together the conclusions from the theoretical approaches considered earlier and bridges the gap between the economic approaches of the modernization neoclassical view and endogenous growth theory with those from the feminist school, i.e. the WID and GAD approaches.

Next week we will start looking at Gender and the Labour Market.


Submitted by girisimc on
I don't believe that gender matters here. There are a lot of evidence in poor and rich countries.

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