How Women Have Fared in the Labour Market with China’s Rise as a Global Economic Power

Authored by: Limin Wang, Jeni Klugman

Categories: Human Rights
Sub-Categories: Economic Participation
Region: East Asia and the Pacific
Year: 2020
Citation: Wang, Limin, and Klugman, Jeni. “How Women Have Fared in the Labour Market with China’s Rise as a Global Economic Power.” Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies., no. 0 (January 16, 2020).

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GIWPS’ Jeni Klugman along with Limin Wang take on women’s role in China’s rapidly developing economy. Under a centrally planned system, China made significant achievements in gender equality. Half a century later, China has joined the ranks of upper‐middle‐income countries, and decades of rapid growth have accompanied major structural changes in the economy. We assess the evolution of women’s economic opportunities during the period, focusing on labour force participation, occupational segregation, leadership in business, and the gender wage gap, as well as informal sector employment and migration. We undertake a review of existing research and conduct new empirical analysis using a combination of data sources, including four waves of Chinese population census data through 2010, and province‐level migration data. We focus especially on migrant women, a group typically excluded from similar studies. Although investments in human capital have advanced prospects for better‐paid jobs for women, we find that rapid economic growth has not alleviated discrimination against women rooted in cultural and social norms and that the implementation of existing laws designed to protect and support women needs to improve.