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Accounting for Gender in Asian Economic Growth

  • Stephanie Seguino

Absent from the important debate on the determinants of rapid Asian growth is the role of gender inequality. This paper argues that gender wage inequality has stimulated growth, with Asian economies that disadvantaged women the most growing the fastest from 1975 to 1990. Low female wages have spurred investment and exports by lowering unit labor costs, providing the foreign exchange to purchase capital and intermediate goods which raise productivity and growth rates. These results contrast with recent studies that argue income equality at the household level contributed favorably to Asian growth by reducing political conflict. The divergent findings can be explained by the fact that gender norms and stereotypes that convince women to accept their low status curb labor and political unrest, stimulating investment. The results indicate that which group bears the burden of inequality in the process of economic growth matters.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Feminist Economics.

Volume (Year): 6 (2000)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 27-58

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Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:6:y:2000:i:3:p:27-58
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  1. Seguino, Stephanie, 2000. "Gender Inequality and Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 1211-1230, July.
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  9. Yilmaz Akyuz & Ha-Joon Chang & Richard Kozul-Wright, 1998. "New perspectives on East Asian development," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(6), pages 4-36.
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  14. Braunstein, Elissa, 2000. "Engendering Foreign Direct Investment: Family Structure, Labor Markets and International Capital Mobility," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 1157-1172, July.
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  17. Lussier, Martine, 1993. "Impacts of Exports on Economic Performance: A Comparative Study," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 2(1), pages 106-27, May.
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  19. Young, Alwyn, 1995. "The Tyranny of Numbers: Confronting the Statistical Realities of the East Asian Growth Experience," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 641-80, August.
  20. Chang, Ha-Joon, 1993. "The Political Economy of Industrial Policy in Korea," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 131-57, June.
  21. You, Jong-Il & Chang, Ha-Joon, 1993. "The Myth of Free Labour Market in Korea," Contributions to Political Economy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(0), pages 29-46.
  22. Stephanie Seguino, 1997. "Gender wage inequality and export-led growth in South Korea," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(2), pages 102-132.
  23. Jong-Il You, 1998. "Income distribution and growth in East Asia," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(6), pages 37-65.
  24. John F. Helliwell, 1996. "Economic Growth and Social Capital in Asia," NBER Working Papers 5470, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  26. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong Wha, 1996. "International Measures of Schooling Years and Schooling Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 218-23, May.
  27. Blecker, Robert A & Seguino, Stephanie, 2002. "Macroeconomic Effects of Reducing Gender Wage Inequality in an Export-Oriented, Semi-industrialized Economy," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 103-19, February.
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