Privatization, Retirement Policy, and Urban Labor Market Gender Gaps, 1990-2005 (Social Science Seminar co-sponsored by HKUST IEMS)

Published on: 2015-11-11

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Abstract / Seminar Summary

This paper studies the impact of China’s enterprise restructuring (privatization) reforms on the gender gap in employment and wages during the 1990-2005 period. By exploiting wide regional variation in industry composition and industry privatization in China, I find that, for the 1990-2000 period, the female-biased nature of industry privatization can explain almost 50% of the increase in the gender gap in urban employment during this period. I also find that the relative decreases in female employment were concentrated among the lower-educated and older females, and that analysis of 1990-2005 data is broadly consistent with the 1990-2000 results. I review several theories that can explain these results, including a theory of firm employment as a form of investment that predicts that that employment probabilities depend on time to retirement. Additional analysis on re-employment rates from a detailed labor force survey shows that the gender gap in re-employment rates in the 1996-2001 period can be entirely explained by the earlier mandated retirement ages for females. Meanwhile, results on wages changes in the 1990-2005 period also show that older females experience a wage disadvantage. While, overall, the variation in privatization experience has no significant effects on the regional variation of wage gap changes, older female wages were sensitive to the gender composition of privatization and female industry growth. These results suggest that gender differences in retirement age policy had a significant effect on the growth of the gender gap in employment and wages.

About the Speaker

Christina Jenq, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies. Her research interests include Labor Economics, Gender, and the Chinese Economy.

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