Trade Liberalization and the Gender Employment Gap in China

45 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2020

See all articles by Feicheng Wang

Feicheng Wang

University of Goettingen (Göttingen)

Krisztina Kis-Katos

University of Goettingen (Göttingen)

Minghai Zhou

University of Nottingham, Ningbo

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This paper investigates the impact of import liberalization induced labor demand shocks on male and female employment in China. Combining data from population and firm censuses between 1990 and 2005, we relate prefecture-level employment by gender to the exposure to tariff reductions on locally imported products. Our empirical results show that increasing import competition has kept more females in the workforce, reducing an otherwise growing gender employment gap in the long run. These dynamics were present both in local economies as a whole and among formal private industrial firms. Examining channels through which tariff reductions differentially affect males and females, we find that trade-induced competitive pressures contributed to a general expansion of female-intensive industries, a shift in sectoral gender segregation, reductions in gender discrimination in the labor market, technological upgrading through computerization, and general income growth.

Keywords: trade liberalization, import competition, gender employment gap, China

JEL Classification: F13, F14, F16, F66, J16

Suggested Citation

Wang, Feicheng and Kis-Katos, Krisztina and Zhou, Minghai, Trade Liberalization and the Gender Employment Gap in China. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13626, Available at SSRN:

Feicheng Wang (Contact Author)

University of Goettingen (Göttingen) ( email )

Platz der Göttinger Sieben 3
Göttingen, 37073

Krisztina Kis-Katos

University of Goettingen (Göttingen) ( email )

Minghai Zhou

University of Nottingham, Ningbo ( email )

199 Taikang East Road
Ningbo, Zhejiang 315100

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