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Women's Economic Empowerment: Gender and Growth

DEV Key Contact: Arjan Verschoor

Project Dates: 2006 -

Current Status:


Gender inequality matters for growth. Analysis suggests that between 0.9 and 1.7 percentage points of the growth difference between East Asia and the Pacific on the one hand, and the Middle East and North Africa on the other, can be accounted for by gender gaps in education and employment. In literature review for DFID, we summarise available evidence on the links between gender inequality and growth, focusing on the direction of causation from the former to the latter, and spell out policy implications. We also review tools and data for gender and growth analysis and policy, and highlight future needs in terms of analysis and advocacy. Headline findings are as follows.

  1. The gender gap in human capital lowers growth
  2. Female labour market participation raises growth
  3. Female education lowers fertility and thereby raises growth
  4. Equal gender relations raise the productivity of investment in agriculture
  5. Gender inequality lowers investment in children and thereby future growth
  6. The gendered distribution of labour negatively affects female supply response and thereby growth
  7. Female savings raise growth
  8. The gender wage gap raises growth in semi-industrialised countries competing for foreign direct investment by keeping female wages low. Countries' experiences in this respect are quite varied and point to the need for country and sector-specific analysis of the gendered impact of trade.

Researchers: Arlette Covarrubias and Catherine Locke


Locke, C., te Lintelo, D. (2012) ‘Young Zambians ‘waiting for' opportunities and ‘working towards' living well: Lifecourse and aspiration in youth transitions', Journal of International Development 24(6):777-794.