The Evolution of Gender Earnings Gaps and Discrimination in Urban China: 1988-1995
This paper analyzes the impact of market liberalization on gender earnings differentials and discrimination against women in urban China at the beginning of the 90s. The observed stability in the overall gender earnings gap between 1988 and 1995 is shown to result from a complex set of evolutions across enterprises, earnings distributions and time. Our results highlight the interplay of opposing forces, economic reforms contributing to changes in managers’ behaviors in different dimensions. On the one hand, by bringing more competition, liberalization favored a reduction in discriminating behaviors in both urban collectives and foreign-invested enterprises; on the other hand, by relaxing institutional rules, it led to a loosening of the government’s egalitarian wage setting policies, leaving more space for discrimination in state-owned enterprises.
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