Allocation of Female Talent and Cross-Country Productivity Differences

53 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2015 Last revised: 18 Oct 2023

See all articles by Munseob Lee

Munseob Lee

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

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Date Written: October 17, 2023


The disparities in cross-country labor productivity are greater in agriculture than in other industries. I propose that the misallocation of female talent across sectors distorts productivity. I formalize the theory by using a general equilibrium Roy model with gender-specific frictions. If female workers experience higher frictions in non-agricultural sectors, then female workers who are better skilled at non-agricultural jobs may select into agricultural sector. From a sample of 66 countries, I find that low-income countries have higher frictions in non-agricultural industries. By setting frictions to US levels, agricultural labor productivity increases by 4.3-7.6 percent, non-agricultural labor productivity decreases by 0.7-1.4 percent, and GDP per capita increases by 0.8-1.5 percent.

Keywords: misallocation, gender, occupational choice, productivity

JEL Classification: O11, O13, O47

Suggested Citation

Lee, Munseob, Allocation of Female Talent and Cross-Country Productivity Differences (October 17, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Munseob Lee (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States


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