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International trade, female labor, and entrepreneurship in MENA countries

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  • Contessi, Silvio
  • Nicola, Francesca de
  • Li, Li

Abstract

Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries stand out in international comparisons of de jure obstacles to female employment and entrepreneurship. These obstacles manifest themselves in low rates of female labor participation, entrepreneurship, and ownership. Recent research suggests a connection between international trade and female labor participation. In this article, the authors focus on the relationship between international trade and gender in the MENA countries. They first analyze female labor as a production factor and then focus on female entrepreneurship and firm ownership. The authors use country- and industry-level data to identify countries and industries characterized by a comparative advantage in female labor. They find evidence suggesting a strong link between a country’s specialization and its measures of female labor participation consistent with theories of brain-based technological bias and factor endowments trade theories. Using firm-level data, the authors then study whether trade empowers female entrepreneurs in country/industry pairs that exhibit comparative advantage. They conclude that the evidence supports the view that exposure to trade disproportionately affects firms in country/industry pairs with a comparative advantage in female labor—both in terms of female employment and female entrepreneurship and ownership—for the MENA countries and the period they study.

Suggested Citation

  • Contessi, Silvio & Nicola, Francesca de & Li, Li, 2013. "International trade, female labor, and entrepreneurship in MENA countries," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 89-114.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2013:i:january:p:89-114:n:v.95no.1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Audi, Marc & Ali, Amjad, 2016. "Gender Gap and Trade Liberalization: An Analysis of some selected SAARC countries," MPRA Paper 83520, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. George O. Tasie, 2017. "The Symbiosis between Entrepreneurship Formation and Employment Creation: A Strategy for Job Opportunities in Kurdistan Region," International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, vol. 7(3), pages 33-46, March.
    3. Ali Fakih & Pascal Ghazalian, 2015. "Female employment in MENA’s manufacturing sector: the implications of firm-related and national factors," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 37-69, February.
    4. Hazarika, Bhabesh & Goswami, Kishor, 2014. "Rural Non-Farm Micro-Entrepreneurship or Not: Gender Issue in Decision Making," EconStor Conference Papers 125611, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    5. Edward Nissan & Farhang Niroomand, 2015. "Economic, welfare, demographic, and gender inequalities among selected Arab countries," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 39(2), pages 396-411, April.

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