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Ata Can Bertay, Ljubica Dordevic, and Can Sever
We study whether higher gender equality facilitates economic growth by enabling better allocation of a valuable resource: female labor. By allocating female labor to its more productive use, we hypothesize that reducing gender inequality should disproportionately benefit industries with typically higher female share in their employment relative to other industries. Specifically, we exploit within-country variation across industries to test whether those that typically employ more women grow relatively faster in countries with ex-ante lower gender inequality. The test allows us to identify the causal effect of gender inequality on industry growth in value-added and labor productivity. Our findings show that gender inequality affects real economic outcomes.
Sriram Balasubramanian and Mr. Paul Cashin
This paper examines the origins and use of the concept of Gross National Happiness (or subjective well-being) in the Kingdom of Bhutan, and the relationship between measured well-being and macroeconomic indicators. While there are only a few national surveys of Gross National Happiness in Bhutan, the concept has been used to guide public policymaking for the country’s various Five-Year Plans. Consistent with the Easterlin Paradox, available evidence indicates that Bhutan’s rapid increase in national income is only weakly associated with increases in measured levels of well-being. It will be important for Bhutan to undertake more frequent Gross National Happiness surveys and evaluations, to better build evidence for comovement of well-being and macroeconomic concepts such as real national income.
Mr. Ruben V Atoyan and Jesmin Rahman
The Western Balkan countries have some of the lowest female labor force participation and employment rates across Europe. Almost two-thirds of working age women in the region are either inactive or unemployed: a huge bite into human capital for a region that endures high emigration and faces declining working age population. The paper uses both macro- and micro-level data to explore what explains low participation and employment rates among women in the region. Our findings show that improving educational attainment, having a more balanced family leave policy, and reducing tax wedge help improve participation of women in the labor force. However, these measures are not enough to notably improve employability of women, which require stronger growth supported by robust institutions.
Ms. Heloisa Marone
This study analyzes Cabo Verde’s demographic transition from the perspective of gender equality. As the pace of the demographic transition slows, promoting gender equality and increasing women’s labor force participation will be progressively more important in enhancing otherwise slow-growth dynamics, reducing poverty, and improving the lives of all, women and men. The study investigates gender gaps in the labor market participation rate, employment conditions, and the use of time dedicated to unpaid work. It also discusses policy options to decrease the time women spend on unpaid work, enhance their employability, and enable them to secure employment. Overall, this study contributes to the debate on how better to manage the potential dividends resulting from demographic transitions on the still young but rapidly aging African continent.
Ms. Dalia S Hakura, Mr. Mumtaz Hussain, Ms. Monique Newiak, Mr. Vimal V Thakoor, and Mr. Fan Yang
A growing body of empirical evidence suggests that inequality—income or gender related—can impede economic growth. Using dynamic panel regressions and new time series data, this paper finds that both income and gender inequalities, including from legal gender-based restrictions, are jointly negatively associated with per capita GDP growth. Examining the relationship for countries at different stages of development, we find that this effect prevails mainly in lower income countries. In particular, per capita income growth in sub-Saharan Africa could be higher by as much as 0.9 percentage points on average if inequality was reduced to the levels observed in the fastgrowing emerging Asian countries. High levels of income inequality in sub-Saharan Africa appear partly driven by structural features. However, the paper’s findings show that policies that influence the opportunities of low-income households and women to participate in economic activities also matter and, therefore, if well-designed and targeted, could play a role in alleviating inequalities.
Mr. Daouda Sembene
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have shown strong signs of growth resilience in the aftermath of the recent global crisis. Yet, this paper finds evidence that growth has more than proportionately benefited the top quintile during PRSP implementation. It finds that PRSP implementation has neither reduced poverty headcount nor raised the income share of the poorest quintile in Sub-Saharan Africa. While countries in other regions have been more successful in reducing poverty and increasing the income share of the poor, there is no conclusive evidence that PRSP implementation has played a role in shaping these outcomes.
Mr. Christian Gonzales, Ms. Sonali Jain-Chandra, Ms. Kalpana Kochhar, and Ms. Monique Newiak
En este Documento de Análisis del Personal Técnico se estudia el efecto de las restricciones legales basadas en el género y de las políticas públicas y las características demográficas en la participación femenina en la fuerza laboral. A partir de un conjunto nuevo y abundante de datos de panel relativos a las restricciones legales vinculadas al género, en el estudio se observa que las restricciones a los derechos hereditarios y patrimoniales de las mujeres, así como los impedimentos jurídicos para realizar actividades económicas tales como abrir una cuenta bancaria o dedicarse libremente a una profesión, se asocian fuertemente con la existencia de brechas de género más amplias en materia de participación en la fuerza laboral. Esos factores tienen un significativo impacto adicional en la participación femenina en la fuerza laboral más allá de los efectos de las características demográficas y las políticas. En muchos casos, las brechas de género provocadas por esas restricciones también ejercen efectos de importancia macroeconómica crucial en términos de su impacto en el PIB. Los resultados del presente estudio indican que sería beneficioso instaurar un marco de reglas equitativas eliminando obstáculos que impidan a las mujeres pasar a ser económicamente activas si así lo desean. Al recomendar la igualdad de oportunidades, sin embargo, no es intención de este estudio emitir juicio alguno acerca de las normas culturales y religiosas ampliamente aceptadas vigentes en un país.
Mr. Christian Gonzales, Ms. Sonali Jain-Chandra, Ms. Kalpana Kochhar, and Ms. Monique Newiak
This Staff Discussion Note examines the effect of gender-based legal restrictions and other policy choices and demographic characteristics on female labor force participation. Drawing on a large and novel panel data set of gender-related legal restrictions, the study finds that restrictions on women’s rights to inheritance and property, as well as legal impediments to undertaking economic activities such as opening a bank account or freely pursuing a profession, are strongly associated with larger gender gaps in labor force participation. These factors have a significant additional impact on female labor force participation over and above the effects of demographic characteristics and policies. In many cases, the gender gaps caused by these restrictions also have macro-critical effects in terms of an impact on GDP. The results from this study suggest that it would be beneficial to level the playing field by removing obstacles that prevent women from becoming economically active if they choose to do so. In recommending equal opportunities, however, this study does not intend to render a judgment of countries’ broadly accepted cultural and religious norms.
Ms. Katrin Elborgh-Woytek, Ms. Monique Newiak, Ms. Kalpana Kochhar, Ms. Stefania Fabrizio, Mr. Kangni R Kpodar, Mr. Philippe Wingender, Mr. Benedict J. Clements, and Mr. Gerd Schwartz
The proposed SDN discusses the specific macro-critical aspects of women’s participation in the labor market and the constraints that prevent women from developing their full economic potential. Building on earlier Fund analysis, work undertaken by other organizations and academic research, the SDN presents possible policies to overcome these obstacles in different types of countries.
Ms. Katrin Elborgh-Woytek, Ms. Monique Newiak, Ms. Kalpana Kochhar, Ms. Stefania Fabrizio, Mr. Kangni R Kpodar, Mr. Philippe Wingender, Mr. Benedict J. Clements, and Mr. Gerd Schwartz
The proposed SDN discusses the specific macro-critical aspects of women’s participation in the labor market and the constraints that prevent women from developing their full economic potential. Building on earlier Fund analysis, work undertaken by other organizations and academic research, the SDN presents possible policies to overcome these obstacles in different types of countries.