IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Economic transition and gender differentials in wages and productivity: Evidence from Chinese manufacturing enterprises


  • Dong, Xiao-yuan
  • Zhang, Liqin


We use firm-level data to analyze male-female wage differences in Chinese industry in the late 1990s. Our estimates indicate that employers' discrimination against women was not a significant source of the gender wage gap in Chinese state-owned enterprises. Instead, we find that the relative wage of unskilled female to male workers was higher than their relative productivity. This result indicates that unskilled female workers in the state sector had historically received wage premiums and consequently accounted for a disproportionate share of the sector's labor surplus.

Suggested Citation

  • Dong, Xiao-yuan & Zhang, Liqin, 2009. "Economic transition and gender differentials in wages and productivity: Evidence from Chinese manufacturing enterprises," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 144-156, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:88:y:2009:i:1:p:144-156

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gunseli Berik, 2000. "Mature Export-Led Growth and Gender Wage Inequality in Taiwan," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(3), pages 1-26.
    2. Milan Vodopivec & Peter F. Orazem, 2000. "Male-female differences in labor market outcomes during the early transition to market: The cases of Estonia and Slovenia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 13(2), pages 283-303.
    3. Jolliffe, Dean & Campos, Nauro F., 2005. "Does market liberalisation reduce gender discrimination? Econometric evidence from Hungary, 1986-1998," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 1-22, February.
    4. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1996. "Wage Structure and Gender Earnings Differentials: An International Comparison," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages 29-62, Suppl..
    5. Liqin Zhang & Xiao-Yuan Dong, 2008. "Male-female wage discrimination in Chinese industry," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(1), pages 85-112, January.
    6. Jennifer Hunt, 2002. "The Transition in East Germany: When Is a Ten-Point Fall in the Gender Wage Gap Bad News?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 148-169, January.
    7. Newell, Andrew & Reilly, Barry, 2001. "The gender pay gap in the transition from communism: some empirical evidence," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 287-304, December.
    8. Elissa Braunstein & Mark Brenner, 2007. "Foreign direct investment and gendered wages in urban China," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(3-4), pages 213-237.
    9. Maurer-Fazio, Margaret & Hughes, James, 2002. "The Effects of Market Liberalization on the Relative Earnings of Chinese Women," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 709-731, December.
    10. Appleton, Simon & Knight, John & Song, Lina & Xia, Qingjie, 2002. "Labor retrenchment in China: Determinants and consequences," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(2-3), pages 252-275.
    11. Xin Meng & Junsen Zhang & Pak-Wai Liu, 2000. "Sectoral gender wage differentials and discrimination in the transitional Chinese economy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 13(2), pages 331-352.
    12. John A. Bishop & Feijun Luo & Fang Wang, 2005. "Economic transition, gender bias, and the distribution of earnings in China," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 13(2), pages 239-259, April.
    13. Svejnar, Jan, 1984. "The determinants of industrial-sector earnings in Senegal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1-3), pages 289-311.
    14. Björn Gustafsson & Shi Li, 2000. "Economic transformation and the gender earnings gap in urban China," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 13(2), pages 305-329.
    15. Barbara R. Bergmann, 1974. "Occupational Segregation, Wages and Profits When Employers Discriminate by Race or Sex," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 103-110, April.
    16. Dong, Xiao-Yuan & Putterman, Louis, 2003. "Soft budget constraints, social burdens, and labor redundancy in China's state industry," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 110-133, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Rickne, Johanna, 2010. "Gender, Wages, and Social Security in China’s Industrial Sector," Working Paper Series 827, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    2. Chen, Zhihong & Ge, Ying & Lai, Huiwen & Wan, Chi, 2013. "Globalization and Gender Wage Inequality in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 256-266.
    3. repec:spr:chfecr:v:5:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1186_s40589-017-0046-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Dammert, Ana C. & Ural Marchand, Beyza & Wan, Chi, 2013. "Gender Wage-Productivity Differentials and Global Integration in China," IZA Discussion Papers 7159, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Cristian Bartolucci, 2010. "Understanding the Native-Immigrant Wage Gap Using Matched Employer-Employee Data. Evidence from Germany," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 150, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    6. repec:eur:ejesjr:64 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Ana C. Dammert & Beyza Ural Marchand, 2015. "Privatization In China: Technology And Gender In The Manufacturing Sector," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(2), pages 250-264, April.
    8. Dong, Xiao-yuan & Pandey, Manish, 2012. "Gender and labor retrenchment in Chinese state owned enterprises: Investigation using firm-level panel data," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 385-395.
    9. Liangshu Qi & Xiao-Yuan Dong, 2013. "Housework Burdens, Quality of Market Work Time, and Men’s and Women’s Earnings in China," Departmental Working Papers 2013-01, The University of Winnipeg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    I30 J16 J21 J64 J71 O10 R20 Gender wage discrimination Economic transition China;

    JEL classification:

    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • R20 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:88:y:2009:i:1:p:144-156. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.