Importing Equality? The Impact of Globalization on Gender Discrimination

Posted: 25 Jul 2004

See all articles by Sandra E. Black

Sandra E. Black

University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Elizabeth Brainerd

Brandeis University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Abstract

An argument dating from Gary Becker's work in 1957, but seldom tested, is that discrimination withers in an increasingly competitive environment because its practice raises production costs. This study finds that employers in concentrated U.S. manufacturing industries - which, compared to competitive industries, are largely insulated from competitive pressures - did reduce discrimination against women partly in response to globalization-related increases in competition in the 1980s. Specifically, between 1976 and 1993, the residual gender wage gap narrowed more rapidly in concentrated industries that experienced a trade shock than in competitive industries that experienced a trade shock. The authors conclude that although trade may increase wage inequality by modestly reducing the relative wages of less-skilled workers, at the same time it appears to benefit women by reducing the ability of firms to discriminate.

Keywords: Gender discrimination, globalization

JEL Classification: J16, J31, J71

Suggested Citation

Black, Sandra E. and Brainerd, Elizabeth, Importing Equality? The Impact of Globalization on Gender Discrimination. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 57, No. 4, pp. 540-559, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=567361

Sandra E. Black (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics ( email )

Austin, TX
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway

Elizabeth Brainerd

Brandeis University - Department of Economics ( email )

Waltham, MA 02454-9110
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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