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The Armistice of the Sexes: Gender Complementarities in the Production Function

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  • Espinoza, Raphael
  • Ostry, Jonathan D.
  • Papageorgiou, Chris

Abstract

Macroeconomic models have largely ignored the importance of gender diversity by assuming that male and female workers are perfectly substitutable in the aggregate production function. Whether this assumption is valid is an empirical question that this paper aims to answer by estimating the elasticity of substitution (ES) between the two types of labor. We apply linear and non-linear techniques to cross-country data at the aggregate level, to cross-country data at the sectoral level, and to firm-level data for the manufacturing sector in China. We find that women and men are far from being perfect substitutes: the ES is below 1 for the aggregate sample, between 1-2 for the sectoral sample, and between 2-3 at firm-level. We discuss why the ES may vary at different levels of aggregation and conclude on the implications of these results for growth accounting and for the gains from gender equality.

Suggested Citation

  • Espinoza, Raphael & Ostry, Jonathan D. & Papageorgiou, Chris, 2019. "The Armistice of the Sexes: Gender Complementarities in the Production Function," CEPR Discussion Papers 13792, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13792
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    aggregate production function; elasticity of substitution; Female Labor Force Participation; growth;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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