The Employment Gender Gap in Urban China: Why Women Benefited Less from China’s Privatization Reforms

Published on: 2015-05-04


JENQ, Christina
JENQ, Christina, a post-doctoral researcher with HKUST IEMS and HKUST Jockey Club Institute for Advanced Study, inspects the role of 1990’s era reforms to urban Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) on the widening gender imbalance in urban employment, with males accounting for a significantly larger share of urban employment than females.

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Based on rigorous econometric analysis, Dr. Jenq postulates that 30-50% of the gender imbalance amongst the urban employed can be assigned to gender-asymmetric industry-level privatization, with the remaining 50-70% attributable to gender differences in labor supply, both on a qualitative and qualitative level. Dr. Jenq cautions against quota-based employment policies aimed at reducing the employment gender gap (as there was scant evidence of gender discrimination found in her analysis), and instead recommends increases in both skill training programs as well as childcare and education benefits to allow more urban women the opportunity to enter the labor force.

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Photo credit: Chinese Workers Performing Quality Assurance by Robert Scoble, CC BY 2.0,


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