Women in the labour market in China

Women in the labour market in China

his paper reviews the evolution of gender inequality in China’s labour market during the economic and social reform since 1978. The reform phase has been a period of high growth in China, but during this period we also observe increasing gender gaps in some labour market indicators. Although women’s labour force participation rate in China is relatively high, both women’s labour force participation rate and the employment-to-population rate have declined at a faster rate than men’s.

Women are more likely to be engaged in low productivity sectors..  Here, analysis using data from China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), shows that much of the differential outcomes in wages between women and men, 91 per cent to be precise, is “un-explained”. Therefore, women and men of similar socio economic characteristics often end up with different wage outcomes, mostly because of discrimination and gender stereotypes.

To improve gender equality in the labour market, the paper points to four areas that require further attention from a policy perspective:

  • measures to promote equal access to employment for women and men
  • creation of an enabling environment for workers with family responsibilities;
  • improved coverage of social security measures, especially for rural women; and
  • design of an appropriate retirement policy
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