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Gender and Trade: Theory and Evidence

DEV Key Contact: Arjan Verschoor

Project Dates: 2007-2008

Researchers: Arlette Covarrubias, Elissaios Papyrakis

Funder: DBERR-DFID-Commonwealth Secretariat

In recent decades freer trade has been regarded as the "royal highway" to fostering economic growth and reducing the incidence of absolute poverty. Economists tend to view trade expansion as an opportunity to achieve a more efficient allocation of resources, and enhance productivity and employment levels. However, trade has differential impacts across socio-economic groups, geographical regions, productive sectors and, the focus here, the two sexes.

The evidence on linkages between on the one hand trade liberalisation and expansion, and on the other gender inequality in earnings, employment opportunities, working conditions, consumption, and decision making processes in the household and wider society is found to be highly diverse, although to a considerable extent in a predictable fashion. We link impacts with country-specific initial conditions; highlight trade-offs with other development goals; and spell out implications for long-term growth, as well as for international trade agreements.