Gender Equality and Economic Growth: Is there a Win-Win?
IDS Working Paper 417
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To what extent does gender equality contribute to economic growth? And to what extent does the reverse relationship hold true?
There are a growing number of studies exploring these relationships, generally using cross-country regression analysis. They are characterised by varying degrees of methodological rigour to take account of the problems associated with econometric analysis at this highly aggregated level, including the problems of reverse causality. Bearing these problems in mind, a review of this literature suggests that the relationship between gender equality and economic growth is an asymmetrical one. The evidence that gender equality, particularly in education and employment, contributes to economic growth is far more consistent and robust than the relationship that economic growth contributes to gender equality in terms of health, wellbeing and rights.
From a growth perspective, therefore, the promotion of certain dimensions of gender equality may appear to offer a win-win solution but from a gender equity perspective, there is no guarantee that growth on its own will address critical dimensions of gender equality. Either growth strategies would need to be reformulated to be more inclusive in their impacts or redistributive measures would need to be put in place to ensure that men and women benefit more equally from growth.