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Does the Liberalization of Trade Advance Gender Equality in Schooling and Health?


  • T. Paul Schultz

    () (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)


This paper assesses the empirical relationship between the liberalization of international trade and the economic status of women. Although historically globalization is not generally linked to the advancement of women, several recent country studies find export led growth in middle and low income countries is associated with improvements in women’s employment opportunities. Does intercountry empirical evidence confirm this association across a wider range of countries, and suggest the mechanisms by which it operates? Measures of wages for men and women are an unreliable basis for study of gender inequality in many low-income countries, and thus schooling and health are analyzed here as indicators of productivity and welfare and gender gaps. For a sample of 70 countries observed at five year intervals from 1965 to 1980, tariff, quota, and foreign exchange restrictions are found to be inversely associated with trade, and with the levels of education and health, especially for women. Natural resource exports, although providing foreign exchange for imports, appear to reduce investments in schooling and health, and delay the equalization of these human capital investments between men and women. Liberalization of trade policy is consequently linked in the cross section to increased trade, to greater accumulation of human capital, and to increased gender equality.

Suggested Citation

  • T. Paul Schultz, 2006. "Does the Liberalization of Trade Advance Gender Equality in Schooling and Health?," Working Papers 935, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:935

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Levinsohn, James, 1999. "Employment responses to international liberalization in Chile," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 321-344, April.
    2. Sandra E. Black & Elizabeth Brainerd, 2004. "Importing Equality? The Impact of Globalization on Gender Discrimination," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(4), pages 540-559, July.
    3. T. Paul Schultz, 1999. "Women's Role in the Agricultural Household: Bargaining and Human Capital," Working Papers 803, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    4. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Can Falling Supply Explain the Rising Return to College for Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746.
    5. T. Paul Schultz, 1998. "Inequality in the distribution of personal income in the world: How it is changing and why," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 11(3), pages 307-344.
    6. Standing, Guy, 1999. "Global Feminization Through Flexible Labor: A Theme Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 583-602, March.
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    19. Schultz, T. Paul (ed.), 1995. "Investment in Women's Human Capital," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226740874, March.
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    30. repec:rus:hseeco:123073 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Martina Zweimüller & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer & Doris Weichselbaumer, 2008. "Market Orientation and Gender Wage Gaps: an International Study," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(4), pages 615-635, November.
    2. Enriqueta Camps, 2009. "Globalization and culture shaping the gender gap: A comparative analysis of urban Latin America and East Asia (1970 - 2000)," Economics Working Papers 1145, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

    More about this item


    Trade Liberalization; Schooling; Health; Gender Equality;

    JEL classification:

    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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