Gender, Labor and Inclusive Growth:
Bringing the Global WEE Research Agenda to China
Xiao-Yuan Dong
University of Winnipeg
National School of Development, Peking University
IDRC-DIFD Expert Meeting on WEE and SIG
January 26-27, 2012
Contents



-
Background
Research agenda
Troops on the ground
Introduction to Chinese Women Economists (CWE)
Research Training Program
Background
 Chinese economy over the past three decades has undergone dramatic
transformations and rapid economic growth.
 The rapid economic growth has lifted more than 400 millions of people
out of poverty and substantially improved the living standards of Chinese
people.
 However, the benefits of economic growth have not been distributed
evenly; the rising income inequality in post-reform China has been a
subject of considerable attention.
 Studies based on national representative data also show that while the
economic growth has raised the economic well-being of both Chinese
men and women in absolute terms, the status of women relative to men in
the labor market have deteriorated, especially after the SOE-sector
restructuring in the late 1990s.
China's GDP per capita (1978=100), 1978 - 2009
1400
1200
1000
800
600
400
200
Source: NBS China Statistical yearbook, 2009 Table 2-5
20
08
20
06
20
04
20
02
20
00
19
98
19
96
19
94
19
92
19
90
19
88
19
86
19
84
19
82
19
80
19
78
0
Rising Human Development Index
HDI
China's Human Development Index, 1975 - 2008
0.85
0.8
0.75
0.7
0.65
0.6
0.55
0.5
0.45
0.4
0.756
0.763
0.772
2005
2006
2007
0.793
0.719
0.657
0.608
0.53
0.533
1975
1980
0.556
1985
1990
1995
2000
Year
2008
Trends of income and consumption inequality between
1988 and 2003
Gini coefficients
Ratio of top 10% to
bottom 10% in
consumption
1988
1995
2003
1991
2003
National
0.39
0.44
0.45
2.43
5.66
Rural areas
0.32
0.38
0.37
Urban areas
0.23
0.28
0.32
Per capita income ratio
Urban/rural
2.0
2.8
3.1
Richest/poore
st province
3.5
5.9
8.0
Source: Qian (2005)
Rising gender inequalities in the labor market
Rising gender gaps in labor force participation
Urbam males' labor force participation rates, 1993, 2000, 2006
100
100
90
90
80
80
70
70
60
1993
50
2000
40
2006
%
%
Urban female labor force participation rates, 1993, 2000, 2006
60
1993
50
2000
40
2006
30
30
20
20
10
10
0
0
16-25
26-35
36-45
46-55
Age
Source: CHNS
56-65
65 +
16-25
26-35
36-45
46-55
Age
56-65
65 +
Prime-aged women withdrew from the labor market at higher
rates than their male counterparts.
Changes in labor force participation rates by gender and by age,
1993 - 2006
0
-5
-10
% -15
-20
-25
-30
16-25
26-35
46-55
36-45
Age
56-65
65 +
Female
Male
Prime-aged women were also more likely than men to be laid
off and had greater difficulty finding reemployment (Du and
Dong, 2009).
Urban unemployment rate by gender and by age, 2003
30
25
%
20
Female
15
Male
10
5
0
20-24
25-29
30-34
35-39
40-44
Age
Source: China’s urban labor survey
45-49
50-54
55-59
60-64
The decline in women’s employment was concentrated among
those married to low-earning husbands (Ding, Dong and Li
2010).
Employment rates of wives by quintile of husbands' income
distribution
100
95
90
%
85
1988
80
1995
2002
75
70
65
60
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
Quintile of Husbands' income distribution
Source: Chinese household income survey
5th
Women were more likely than men to experience downward
occupational mobility, moving into jobs with lower pay and less skill
requirement (Song and Dong, 2009).
Frequency distribution of occupational mobility by direction
45
40
42.9
37.6
37.2
35
28.5
30
28.6
%
Male
25.2
Female
25
20
15
10
Downward
Horizontal
Source: Chinese Women Social Status Survey (2000)
Upward
A growing number of urban workers, predominately women,
have been pushed into the informal sector (Yuan and Cook
2010)
Share of informal employment, 1997-2006
45
39.9
40
33.9
35
30
24.2
25
1997
%
20.5
2006
20
15
10
5
0
Male
Source: CHNS
Female
Growing gender wage disparities:
The ratio of female to male earnings fell from 0.84 in 1987 to 0.76 in
2004 (Chi and Li, 2008)
Annual earnings by gender (yuan)
4500
4215
4000
3500
3203
3000
2500
Male
2190
Female
1822
2000
1542
1500
1293
1000
500
0
1987
1996
2004
Source: China’s urban household survey (Chi and Li, 2008)
The gender earnings gap went up from 1987 to 2004, more
dramatically for lower deciles.
Raw gender earnings gaps by decile, 1987-2004
0.4
0.35
0.3
0.25
1987
0.2
1996
2004
0.15
0.1
0.05
0
10th
20th
30th
40th
50th
60th
70th
80th
90th
Decile
Source: China’s urban household survey (Chi and Li, 2008)
Economic disparities between
urban and migrant workers
Urban workers
Migrant workers
Male
Female
Male
Female
Formal sector
82%
81%
45%
37%
Self-employed
9%
7%
30%
27%
Temporary
workers
9%
12%
25%
34%
Wages
(Yuan/month)
2,475
1,987
1,934
1,309
Working
hours/week
42.2
36.3
65.0
61.6
Source: 2008 urban and migrant household survey.
Feminization of the rural economy
The share of work done by women aged 15 and older
90
80.9 80.8 80.6
80
70
%
60
55.1 55.4
58
55.4 55.5 57.6
1991
41.9 44.2
50
2000
40
2006
30
23.6
20
10
0
Farm work
Sources: CHNS
Off-farm work
Domestic work
Total work time
Compared to men, working women have longer work hours and
higher time poverty rates (Dong and An, 2011).
Men
Women
Paid work
(Hour/week)
41.3
37.7
Unpaid work
(hour/week)
11.4
23.2
Total
(hour/week)
52.7
60.9
Time poverty rate
(>80 hours/week)
5.6%
10.2%
Source: China time use survey 2008
• Despite the aforementioned setbacks, due to the socialist legacy
and rapid economic growth, gender inequalities in China remain lower
relative to many countries at similar levels of development.
Human
development
index ranking
China
Gender
inequality index
ranking
GII-HDI
89
38
-51
The United States
4
37
33
Canada
8
16
8
Russia
65
41
-24
Brazil
73
80
7
South Africa
110
82
-28
India
119
122
3
Source: UNDP Human Development Report 2010, Table 4
New challenges to WEE and SIG in China
 With the ending of “population dividends” and raising labor
costs, the Chinese economy faces the massive destruction
and reallocation of jobs in low-end manufacturing.
-
If not handled properly, this process will further polarize China’s employment structure,
exacerbate income inequality, and worsen women’s position in the labor market.
 Chinese government’s response
-
Boost internal consumption
Develop broad-based social protection and security schemes
Raise official poverty line to 2,300 yuan (≈$1.25/day)
□ Bringing the WEE and SIG to China is of timely
importance.
2. Research agenda
1. Need to improve methodologies
 Limitations of the existing research on gender and
economic transformations in China
- Tend to stress the instrumental rationale of gender equality more than
-
the intrinsic rationale;
Narrowly focus on the market sector and paid work;
Lack of a macroeconomic perspective;
Quantitative analysis and inadequate attention to policy relevance.
Methodological Improvements
- Place greater emphasis on the intrinsic rationale of WEE in
-
-
the gender and development discourse;
Look at women’s work in its totality, paying attention to the
tradeoffs of paid work and unpaid family responsibility
facing women, especially those from low-income families;
Link the research on WEE to macroeconomic policies;
Encourage pluralistic research methods and policy-oriented
research.
2. Issues need to be explored
 Facilitating growth with decent jobs
Macro-issues
•
•
Examine the impacts of the industrial upgrading process on the gender patterns
of employment
Develop gender-sensitive labor policy and social protection schemes
-
Issues concerning WEE in the formal sector
•
What obstacles are there to women’s entry to and career advancement in the
sector?
What obstacles are there to women’s rising to managerial leadership positions?
What policy measures may help foster family-friendly, gender equalityenhancing practices at the firm level?
How do such practices affect both enterprise productivity and the well-being of
male and female workers?
•
•
•
2. Issues need to be explored
•
Issues concerning WEE in the informal sector
-
Special attention to two groups:
-
Migrant workers and paid domestic workers
Their earnings, working conditions, access to social protections and
financial services, organized voice and capacity to bargain for fairer
returns to labor
•
-
Issues concerning WEE in the rural sector
-
Impacts of the feminization of agriculture on labor productivity and the
wellbeing of female farmers and their families
Special attention to left-behind non-elderly women and the elderly
2. Issues need to be explored
 Enhancing enterprise development,
entrepreneurship and innovation
-
What are the main reasons for women to start business?
What factors are attributable to the performance differences between
women and men entrepreneurs?
What role do women play in enterprise innovation?
Earnings, productivity, working conditions, access to finance and social
protections, voice and organizations of self-employed women and men
3. Troops on the ground
 The Chinese Women Economists (CWE) Research and
Training Program of the National School of Development,
Peking University (www.CEW.org.cn)
-
Established in 2002 under the sponsorship of the Ford Foundation
-
Have provide research trainings for more than 200 young CWEs from more than 100
Chinese universities and research institutes
-
32 established scholars from Australia, Canada, the UK, the US, returning westtrained Chinese scholars have participated in research mentoring
-
Have published about 70 articles (with research mentors) in international refereed
journals
-
Hosted the 2011 IAFFE Annual conference in Hangzhou
3. Troops on the ground
 The goals of the program in its second decade
-
Mainstream gender in economic education, research and
policy making in China
Work together with Chinese male economists and returning
west-trained junior economists
 Needs for further capacity building
- Gender research, case study, policy analysis, writing skills
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Gender, Labor and Inclusive Growth in China