IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Women's Employment and Family Income Inequality during China's Economic Transition


  • Sai Ding
  • Xiao-yuan Dong
  • Shi Li


Economic reforms and trade liberalization have brought profound changes to the Chinese labor market. In this paper, we apply the technique of decomposing the coefficient of variation to examine the impact of changes in married women's employment and earnings on income inequality among Chinese urban households. Using the Chinese Household Income Surveys from 1988, 1995, and 2002, we explore the differences between two phases of economic transition: the gradualist reform period (1988-1995) and the radical reform period (1995-2002). Our analysis shows that the public-sector labor retrenchment of the late 1990s has led to a drastic decline in the employment rates of women, especially those married to low-earning husbands, and the change in women's employment was a major force driving income inequality in post-restructuring urban China.

Suggested Citation

  • Sai Ding & Xiao-yuan Dong & Shi Li, 2009. "Women's Employment and Family Income Inequality during China's Economic Transition," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(3), pages 163-190.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:15:y:2009:i:3:p:163-190
    DOI: 10.1080/13545700802526541

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

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

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fan Gang & Maria Rosa Lunati & David O’Connor, 1998. "Labour Market Aspects of State Enterprise Reform in China," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 141, OECD Publishing.
    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. Meng, Bingchun & Huang, Yanning, 2017. "Patriarchal capitalism with Chinese characteristics: gendered discourse of ‘Double Eleven’ shopping festival," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 75196, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. repec:taf:femeco:v:23:y:2017:i:1:p:135-159 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Xiao-yuan Dong & Jin Feng & Yangyang Yu, 2014. "Relative Pay and its Underlying Determinants for Domestic Eldercare Workers in Urban China," Departmental Working Papers 2014-01, The University of Winnipeg, Department of Economics.
    4. Liu, Qian, 2012. "Unemployment and labor force participation in urban China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 18-33.
    5. Ali T. Cem Başlevent, 2014. "Social Transfers and Income Inequality in Turkey: How Informative Is the Survey of Income and Living Conditions?," Ekonomi-tek - International Economics Journal, Turkish Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 23-42, September.
    6. 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.

    More about this item


    Income inequality; assortative mating; women's employment; China; JEL Codes: D13; J16; P21;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • P21 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform


    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:taf:femeco:v:15:y:2009:i:3:p:163-190. 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: (Chris Longhurst). 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.