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Export Processing Zone Expansion in Madagascar: What are the Labour Market and Gender Impacts?


  • Peter Glick
  • François Roubaud


This paper analyses part of the controversy over export processing zones (EPZs)--the labour market and gender impacts--using unique time-series labour force survey data from an African setting: urban Madagascar, in which the EPZ (or Zone Franche) grew very rapidly during the 1990s. Employment in the Zone Franche exhibits some basic patterns seen elsewhere in export processing industries of the developing world, such as the predominance of young, semi-skilled female workers. Taking advantage of microdata availability, we estimate earnings regressions to assess sector and gender wage premia. Zone Franche employment is found to represent a significant step-up in pay for women who would otherwise be found in poorly remunerated informal sector work. As it provides relatively high wage opportunities for those with relatively low levels of schooling, export processing development may also eventually have significant impacts on poverty. Further, by disproportionately drawing women from the low-wage informal sector (where the gender pay gap is very large) to the relatively well-paid export processing jobs (where pay is not only higher but also similar for men and women with similar qualifications), the EPZ has the potential to contribute to improved overall gender equity in earnings in the urban economy. Along many non-wage dimensions, jobs in the EPZ are comparable to or even superior to other parts of the formal sector. However, the sector is also marked by very long working hours and high turnover, which may work to prevent it from being a source of long-term employment and economic advancement for women. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Glick & François Roubaud, 2006. "Export Processing Zone Expansion in Madagascar: What are the Labour Market and Gender Impacts?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(4), pages 722-756, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:15:y:2006:i:4:p:722-756

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10601 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:dau:papers:123456789/13410 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fukase, Emiko, 2013. "Foreign job opportunities and internal migration in Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6420, The World Bank.
    4. Cael Warren & Raymond Robertson, 2011. "Globalization, Wages, and Working Conditions: A Case Study of Cambodian Garment Factories," Working Papers id:4505, eSocialSciences.
    5. Picarelli, Nathalie, 2016. "Who really benefits from export processing zones? Evidence from Nicaraguan municipalities," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 318-332.
    6. repec:dau:papers:123456789/7079 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Nordman, Christophe J. & Rakotomanana, Faly & Roubaud, François, 2016. "Informal versus Formal: A Panel Data Analysis of Earnings Gaps in Madagascar," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 1-17.
    8. Julia Vaillant & Michael Grimm & Jann Lay & François Roubaud, 2014. "Informal sector dynamics in times of fragile growth: The case of Madagascar," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 26(4), pages 437-455, September.
    9. Philippe De Vreyer & François Roubaud, 2013. "Urban Labor Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15808.
    10. Marta Castilho & Marta Menéndez & Aude Sztulman, 2015. "Poverty and Inequality Dynamics in Manaus: Legacy of a Free Trade Zone?," Working Papers halshs-01245394, HAL.
    11. Michael Grimm & Jay Lann & François Roubaud & Julia Vaillant, 2014. "Informal Sector Dynamics in Times of Fragile Growth: the Case of Madagascar," Post-Print hal-01686685, HAL.

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