The Effects of International Trade on Gender Inequality: Women Carpet Weavers of Iran

Levy Economics Institute, Working Papers Series

20 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2008

See all articles by Zahra Karimi

Zahra Karimi

University of Mazandaran (UMZ)

Date Written: July 25, 2008


The process of economic globalization has winners and losers. Iran's carpet industry provides a good illustration of the adverse side of this process. As the production costs of its rivals have fallen, surging international trade has reduced the market share of Iran's labor-intensive products, especially Persian carpets.

This paper reports the findings of an informal survey of carpet weavers conducted in and around the Iranian city of Kashan, showing how harsh international competition has reduced the weavers' real wages and restructured the labor force of the industry in Iran. Middle-income families have left the industry, and poor Afghan immigrant householders and their children are increasingly taking the place of Iranian weavers. Furthermore, weaving is consistent with the subordinate position of women carpet weavers within the household; as a form of employment, it has hardly affected the social status quo.

Keywords: International Trade, Gender Inequality, Iran, Race to the Bottom, Hand Woven Carpet

JEL Classification: F14, F16, J16, J31, J41

Suggested Citation

Karimi, Zahra, The Effects of International Trade on Gender Inequality: Women Carpet Weavers of Iran (July 25, 2008). Levy Economics Institute, Working Papers Series, Available at SSRN: or

Zahra Karimi (Contact Author)

University of Mazandaran (UMZ) ( email )

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