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Closing the gender gap in Bangladesh: inequality in education, employment and earnings


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  • Mohammad A. Hossain
  • Clement A. Tisdell


Purpose – To provide and assess trends on the status of women in Bangladesh in terms of key macro level indicators namely, women's labour force participation, educational attainments and earnings vis-à-vis men. Design/methodology/approach – The trends in women's workforce participation, educational attainments and earnings compared with those of men are evaluated on the basis of descriptive statistics. Correlation and regression techniques are used to examine the relationship between women's education and workforce participation, and to predict the equalisation of female-male educational attainment. Findings – The study finds evidence of growing commercialisation of women's work in Bangladesh. Although most women in the workforce are self-employed or employed in low-skill jobs, their participation in high skill and entrepreneurial jobs as well as policy-making bodies is on the rise. While gender wage differentials have been considerably reduced in many industries, in general, women tend to be paid less than men. There have been remarkable improvements in women's educational attainments. Further, female education is found to be positively correlated with their workforce participation. Overall, the findings indicate an improvement in women's status in Bangladesh. Research limitations/implications – The suggested relationship between women's education and employment needs to be further investigated using rigorous econometric techniques in order to distinguish between productivity-enhancing effects of education and other determinants of increased female employment (FEMPL). Practical implications – The research should be a useful reference to international and domestic policy-makers as well as members of the academia and future researchers on the issue. Originality/value – This study represents the first of its kind in the Bangladesh context. It provides valuable information about, and an independent assessment of, women's status in Bangladesh at the national level.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Social Economics.

Volume (Year): 32 (2005)
Issue (Month): 5 (May)
Pages: 439-453

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Handle: RePEc:eme:ijsepp:v:32:y:2005:i:5:p:439-453

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Postal: Emerald Group Publishing, Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley, BD16 1WA, UK

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Keywords: Bangladesh; Education; Empowerment; Pay differentials; Women workers;

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  1. Hossain, Mohammad & Tisdell, Clement A., 2003. "Fertility and Female Work Force Participation in Bangladesh: Causality and Cointegration," Social Economics, Policy and Development Working Papers 106947, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Chicha, Marie-Thérèse, 2006. "Analyse comparative de la mise en oeuvre du droit à l'égalité de rémunération : modèles et impacts," ILO Working Papers 392033, International Labour Organization.
  2. Hossain, Mohammad & Tisdell, Clement A., 2005. "Does Workforce Participation Empower Women? Micro-Level Evidence from Urban Bangladesh," Social Economics, Policy and Development Working Papers 123451, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
  3. Kapsos, Steven, 2008. "The gender wage gap in Bangladesh," ILO Working Papers 413417, International Labour Organization.
  4. Chicha, Marie-Thérèse, 2006. "A comparative analysis of promoting pay equity : models and impacts," ILO Working Papers 399524, International Labour Organization.
  5. Mohammad, Hossain & Tisdell, Clement A., 2003. "Major Demographic Changes in Bangladesh and their Socio-economic Correlates: Analysis of Trends," Social Economics, Policy and Development Working Papers 106950, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
  6. Chaudhuri, Sanjukta, 2010. "Women's Empowerment in South Asia and Southeast Asia: A Comparative Analysis," MPRA Paper 19686, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Tisdell, Clement A. & Regmi, Gopal, 2004. "Economic Social and Cultural Influences on the Status and Wellbeing of Indian Rural Wives," Social Economics, Policy and Development Working Papers 106952, University of Queensland, School of Economics.


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