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Fridays Academy: Gender Budgeting

Ignacio Hernandez's picture

As usual on Fridays, from Raj Nallari and Breda Griffith's lecture notes.


Summary Measures of Gender Inequalities


Measures of inequality in key economic, social and political indicators suggest that gender inequality continues, although inequality in education is narrowing (Stotsky, 2006). The table below examines average values of education and health indicators for three country groupings classified by high, medium or low levels of human development based on per capita income.


Gender Inequalities in Education and Health Status, 2001/02


Source: Stotsky (2006)


Expressing gender inequality as a ratio of females to males for the relevant variables, we note that educational inequalities exist, in particular for low human development countries in primary enrollment (0.86) and especially in secondary enrollment (0.73).  Gender parity in education exists for the high and medium human development countries in both primary and secondary. Indeed in the latter, girls outnumber boys at least for the year in question.

Expressing the health variable as the ratio of female to male life expectancy and noting that average female life expectancy is higher than males, we still see a lowering of the gap when it comes to low human development countries. Inequalities in health can be attributed to excess mortality of female children and differences in life expectancy that do not accord with biological norms (Stotsky, 2006).  These ‘missing women’ is a well-documented phenomenon.  Comparing sex ratios of populations with excess female mortality to those sex ratios that would prevail in the absence of discrimination indicates 90 million missing women in the early 1990s, the majority of which were missing from Asian countries, in particular China and India (Klasen 1994).

As discussed in previous weeks, there are three gender equity indices that we may consult in ascertaining the degree of gender inequality. Although these indices have come under attack for various theoretical and practical purposes, they are a useful construct and basis for discussion on gender inequality.  The table below presents the indices for countries categorized as high, medium and low levels of human development based on income per capita.


Gender Equity Indexes

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Source: Stotsky (2006)


Countries with high human development also score high on the HDI, as would be expected. Furthermore, HDI in countries with high and medium human development are approximately twice that of the low human development group. A similar story is true for the other two indices, GDI and GEM.  Given that this table represents a summary, it is unsurprising that considerable variation exists within the groupings. As noted by Stotsky (2006) Scandinavian countries score well on gender equality, in terms of both economic and political equality. Developing countries on the other hand score less well with countries in the Middle East, Sub Sahara Africa and South Asia scoring low in terms of economic and political equality.

The effects of these inequalities and those discussed previously constrain economic growth and undermine women’s economic opportunities. We note from previous weeks that gender inequality affects economic growth as well as aspects of poverty that includes income, opportunity, security and empowerment (Sarraf, 2003).  While most of the evidence is microeconomic in nature, the previous comments have shown that the aggregative effects of gender inequality have macroeconomic implications.  Females in poorer countries may receive lower-quality nutrition, less healthcare and education opportunities compared to their male counterparts. Within the household, women are often discriminated against in having less control over the household resources. Discrimination exists in the labor market and job segmentation often positions women in low-paying occupations. Moreover, lack of access to land and credit markets and the heavy time-burden, especially of poorer women all hinder a women’s personal development and freedom and economic opportunities.


Next Friday: Gender Budgeting - why and how


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