The Gender and Poverty Impacts of Trade Liberalization in Senegal
Developing countries are deeply engaged in trade negotiations at the bilateral, regional and international (WTO) levels. As imports, exports and tariff duties all occupy an important part of their economies, far-reaching impacts on production, labor and capital markets, household incomes and, perhaps most importantly, economic growth will indubitably ensue. As men and women occupy very different roles in these economies, particularly in terms of the import and export orientation of the sectors in which they work, they will be affected very differently by these reforms. To anticipate these changes, a dynamic economy-wide model is developed with an application to Senegal. Whereas most similar existing studies consider the comparative static resource reallocation effects of trade reforms, ours is the first to focus on the growth effects (“dynamic gains from trade”), which are thought to be possibly much larger. The trade-productivity link is revealed to be the strongest growth channel, raising GDP by over three percentage points by the end of our 15 year simulation period. Trade liberalization is found to increase the gender wage gap in favor of men, especially among unskilled workers, as men are more active in export-oriented sectors such as cash crops and mining whereas women contribute more to import-competing sectors such as food crops. Furthermore, the ensuing growth effects further widen the over-all gender wage gap, as the productivity gains from increased openness are greatest in female-intensive sectors in which imports rise markedly. Thus, this suggests the need to implement policies aimed at increasing both unskilled and skilled women’s exposure in labor-intensive export industries, which is currently male dominated. A linked microsimulation analysis, based on a survey of Senegalese households, show that trade liberalization reduces poverty in Senegal, particularly in rural areas. While the fall in the relative wages of rural workers would initially lead us to believe that rural households would lose the most from trade liberalization, they are in fact compensated by greater consumer price savings, given that they consume more goods from the initially protected agricultural and agro-industrial sectors.
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