Is trade liberalization a window of opportunity for women?

This paper analyses how trade affects women's job opportunities and earnings through five case studies: Mauritius, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. It is found that women's share of the labour force has increased over time and the wage gap between men and women has narrowed. It is also found that there is a positive and statistically significant relation between exports and women's share of employment while there is a statistically significant and negative correlation between women's share in employment and imports. The correlation between women's share of employment and trade stems from variation between sectors rather than within sectors over time, indicating that export-competing industries tend to employ women while import-competing industries tend to employ men. Trade liberalization is likely to create jobs for women and over time increase their relative wages.

No: ERSD-2003-03


Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås — WTO

Manuscript date:  August 2003

Key Words

Gender, trade liberalization

JEL classification numbers  

F14, F16

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This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. This paper represents the opinions of individual staff members or visiting scholars, and is the product of professional research. It is not meant to represent the position or opinions of the WTO or its Members, not the official position of any staff members. Any errors are the fault of the authors. Copies of working papers can be requested from the divisional secretariat by writing to: Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization, rue de Lausanne 154, CH-1211 Genève 21, Switzerland. Please request papers by number and title.

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