Economic Development in Asia Research Paper

Tan Zhiyang, Benson S8308207J

Economic Development and Gender Equality: A Positive or Negative Relationship?
“You can tell the condition of the nation by looking at the status of its women.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

Introduction
It is commonly observed that the status of women in society is related to socio-economic development. Many measures of gender inequality support this. Looking at secondary school

education, one can see that for the poorest 25% of countries, only 5% of women has any secondary school education, whilst the figures are 51% for the richest 25%1. Some have been more explicit, arguing that economic development can lead to

improvement in gender equality2. Amongst many others, it has been argued that an increase in per capita income will lead to greater gender equality3. However, many others have argued that economic

development has not increased gender equality. Of note is the feminist school, which argues that economic growth increases the vulnerability of women to gender inequality4. Which leads to the question: which of these approaches are correct? This question is of significant importance. Many studies have shown that there are many positive effects on improving the

1

Economic Development in Asia Research Paper

Tan Zhiyang, Benson S8308207J

increasing gender equality, affecting the family, society, the economy and politics. Higher gender equality can lead to economic growth through increased output per capita5, increase their

daughters’ survivals6, and reduces infant and maternal mortality7, just to name a few. This paper found that the relationship between economic development and gender equality is not so clear. In some instances, it has been found that one approach is supported, while in other instances another approach is supported . This papers posits that a generalizable theory between economic development and gender equality is insufficient, and more research needs to be done to find out what are the conditions that causes one approach to work in one instance while causing another approach to work in another instance.

Literature Review
Contemporary work on the impact development and growth have on gender equality tends to fall under three schools of thought. In the first school, called the modernisation-neoclassical approach, believes that gender equality would improve as a country develops8. It has been argued that gender equality tends to improve with economic development, as gender equality in basic rights decreases as regions of the world get poorer. Others have suggested that increases in per capita income improve gender 2

which believes that that economic growth and gender equality have a relationship in the form of a “U” shape. Where a country has no market economy. Chen postulates that economic development may affect gender equality through wages. 3 . and the above can be reversed due to increased economic opportunities and demand for female labour12. Wages increase with economic development. As opportunity cost increases. In countries where gender equality is low. credit.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. health. with women’s primary role as that of childcare and men’s as that of a breadwinner. which increases the opportunity cost of not working. the formerly unemployed would be compelled to work. Others have stated that economic growth creates an increase in employment opportunities and competition that would eventually improve gender equality in education. legal rights and employment opportunities will increase women’s socio-economic role in developing countries. Benson S8308207J equality9. there would be an overall transformation in society and roles. A second school of thought is what is called the Boserup approach. equality falls initially due to the specialisation of roles. finance and training 10. As growth and development takes place. thus women in this case would be compelled to work11. the majority of the unemployed are women. Others have agreed that economic growth together with increased access to education. gender relations are more or less equal. As the economy develops further.

Vietnam and Laos). authoritarian and ex-authoritarian states (South Korea. and because comparing every single Asian country is beyond the scope of this paper.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. which believes that institutions like patriarchal family structures play a major role in reducing gender equality. there are a mix of communist / socialist and ex-communist / socialist states (China. geographical area and religious influence. disparities in gender equality exist. the main criteria is to select countries with the widest spread of politics. which raises objections to the above contentions. It has been argued in Morrison & Jutting that social institutions constitute the most important single factor that determines women’s economic choices. In further support. Benson S8308207J There is a third school. For political diversity. Indonesia 4 . South Asia. it shows that even in a same country. both directly and indirectly through their access to education and health care. and where economic growth is seen as a factor that increases the vulnerability of women to gender inequality. They cited evidence that in the Sub-Saharan Africa. This is know as the feminist approach. it might have low gender equality. supporting that argument that a country can develop even though gender inequalities persist13. Contextualised Briefing As this paper aims to do an Asia-wide study. even as a country might experience high per capita incomes. the Middle East and North African regions.

Malaysia and Pakistan). An example would be that 13% economic growth should see a higher increase of gender equality scores. Laos and Malaysia). Next. Hindu (India) and no religion (China. this paper is able to determine whether the strength of economic development corresponds with an equally strong gender equality increase. Muslim (Indonesia. Moreover. Japan and Malaysia). South Korea and Japan). there is a mix of Buddhist / Taoist / Confucian majorities (Japan and Laos). and democracies or quasi-democracies (India. and South Asia (India and Pakistan). Benson S8308207J and Pakistan14). and 2% economic growth should see a small increase in gender equality scores. Analytical Framework This paper chooses an empirical approach. Using this. the paper is able to evaluate whether the different levels of economic development corresponds with the varying levels of gender inequality. Southeast Asia (Vietnam. For religious diversity. Indonesia. using this approach. 5 . the nine countries selected will be grouped together based on the various measure of economic development to determine which of these measures of economic development matches corresponds closer with gender equality scores. Vietnam and South Korea15). there is a mix of East Asia (China.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. For geographical diversity.

Education can be measured by looking at gender differentials in enrolment rates18 or the access and achievement of women in education19. Employment is usually measured by finding the female share of the labour force in a country20.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. and proportion of population living below US$1 a day. The quantitative approach is to use indices. per capita GNI. it is merely the Human Development Index (HDI) adjusted for gender disparities. amongst others. and the rates of change of per capita GDP. as it was found that education and earning independent income from paid employment reduces anti-female bias and increase female voice and agency in the home17. per capita GNI. Other quantitative indicators include improvements in health21. Gender equality is the difference between the ratios of the two indicators16. of which the UNDP’s Gender-related Development Index (GDI) is the most common. 6 . These figures are selected because of the ease of which they can be obtained. However. Measuring gender equality is trickier. This study would use both the static figures of per capita GDP. Benson S8308207J Methodology One can measure economic development in many ways. Other ways to measure gender equality quantitatively are by using education and employment levels alone as proxies. GDI alone does not measure inequality. and GDP growth rates. and poverty levels measured as proportion of population living under US$1 a day.

gender equality is improving in the world22. The main reason is that a comparative analysis 7 . but its use is less universal and limited due to difficulties in getting information and disagreements on a standard set of measures. This creates problems as any form of economic development will be correlated with an increase with GDI scores. the difference between HDI and GDI scores (HDI-GDI) would be used as a proxy score for gender equality. and measuring constraints like social institutions through laws. Second. For the purposes of this paper. It has been argued that the content of schooling matters24. codes of conduct and traditions28. There are also qualitative measures. These includes measuring the legal and economic parity of women in society and marriage27. social norms. First. and the preexisting power balance in the family26. Benson S8308207J There are several criticisms for using just quantitative measures. and that it might require much higher levels of education before a woman is exposed to ideas and strategies necessary for questioning gender inequality25. Similarly. whether gender equality increases after earning independent income depends on whether they have control over it. This is because gender equality is a multi-faceted concept that measures many things. it has been shown that generally. the education and employment variables used in the index are not contextualized and therefore not useful for meaningful comparison across countries23.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang.

higher poverty reduction rates) corresponds with higher increases in HDI-GDI scores. Using HDI-GDI helps as it includes the three indicators of income. For a static comparison. making it difficult to have any form of meaningful comparison across countries. For a comparison based on the rate of change of 8 . Moreover. and other ways of measuring gender equality have not met universal subscription and have very specific and limited usage. higher per capita increases in GDP and GNI. an analysis of all the quantitative measure universally available is impossible. education and life expectancy. hence encompassing a more holistic approach to measuring gender equality. per capita GNI and poverty levels against HDI-GDI. Though the criticisms of using quantitative measures are strong. Benson S8308207J requires the use of a measure that is easily obtainable. This paper will circumvent the problem of generally increasing GDI scores by testing if the intensity of economic development (higher GDP growth rates.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. HDI-GDI scores are truly global. If economic development does indeed increase gender equality. comparing qualitative indicators is unrealistic due to the lack of data and commonly accepted qualitative measure. this paper would use per capita GDP. and grouping countries according to their economic development indicators against HDI-GDI. due to the limitations of this paper. In addition. then higher rates of economic development should show a higher increase in gender equality.

The independent variables used are GDP growth rates. and rate of change of poverty levels. the GDP growth estimate for 1996 will be dropped. As there are no gender equality data for 1996.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. Historical data for HDI and GDI can be found on the United Nations – Human Development Reports online from 1996 onwards. religious influence and geographical areas to see if these factors are related to HDI-GDI. and rate of change of poverty levels against the rate of change of HDI-GDI. countries would be grouped according to its political history. poverty levels. and grouping countries according to their economic development indicators against the rate of change of HDI-GDI. Data Historical data for economic development indicators are found on the United Nations Statistics Division database online. per capita GNI. this paper would use the rate of change of per capita GDP. Lastly. GDP growth estimate for 1997 = 1996 GDP growth + 1997 GDP growth 2 9 . Hence. Table 1 shows the GDP growth estimates. Benson S8308207J economic development against the rate of change of gender equality. rate of change of per capita GDP. per capita GDP. the GDP growth estimates for 1997 will be revised by the formula below. rate of change of per Capita GNI. rate of change of per capita GNI.

The rate of change of per capita GNI in US$ is calculated as follows: Rate of change of per capita GNI = current year’s per capita GNI – previous year’s per capita GNI previous year’s per capita GNI Table 5 shows the available figures of poverty levels and the rate of change of poverty levels. The rate of change of per capita GDP in US$ is calculated as follows: Rate of change of per capita GDP = current year’s per capita GDP – previous year’s per capita GDP previous year’s per capita GDP Table 4 shows the per capita GNI and the rate of change of per capita GNI in US$. The rate of change of poverty is calculated as follows: Rate of change of poverty levels = previous available year’s poverty levels – subsequent available year’s poverty levels The dependent variable used is Gender Equality. The formulas for calculations are as follows: Gender Equality = HDI scores – GDI scores 10 . If the rate of change is positive. The gender equality scores would get smaller as gender equality increases in the country. Benson S8308207J Table 2 shows the revised GDP growth estimates applying the formula above. Table 3 shows the per capita GDP and the rate of change of per capita GDP in US$. it means gender equality is increasing. Table 6 shows the gender equality score and the rate of change of gender equality for each of the countries chosen. and vice-versa.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang.

Benson S8308207J Rate of change of Gender Equality = previous year’s Gender Equality – current year’s Gender Equality For comparisons of poverty reduction rates and the rate of change of gender equality. the averaged gender equality scores range from 0. Figure 1 shows the relationship on a scatter plot. the averaged gender equality scores are 0. Table 8 shows the countries grouped together according to their GDP growth rates and the corresponding averaged gender equality scores. and Figure 2 shows the relationship on a line chart. the rate of change of gender equality is calculated as follows: Rate of change of Gender Equality = previous corresponding year’s Gender Equality – subsequent corresponding year’s Gender Equality Analysis of Data GDP Growth Rates and Gender Equality Scores Table 7 shows GDP growth rates and the corresponding gender equality scores for each country each year. The wide dispersal of plots suggests that there seems to be no relationship between GDP growth rates and gender equality scores. due to the lack of poverty reduction rates for every year.0060 respectively.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang.0130 11 . The results show that for GDP growth rates below 0% and more than 10%. whereas for GDP growth rates between 0% and 10%.0076 and 0.

Likewise. supporting the Boserup Tan Zhiyang. and Figure 4 shows the relationship on a line chart. The U is inverted in this case as gender equality is measured using zero as the perfect gender equality GDP Growth Rates and Rates of Change of Gender Equality Scores Table 9 shows the GDP growth rates and the corresponding rate of change of gender equality scores for each country each year. suggests that there seems to be no relationship between GDP growth rates and the rates of change of gender equality scores. Figure 3 shows the relationship on a scatter plot. 12 . results suggest that there seems to be no relationship between GDP growth groups and the averaged rates of change of gender equality scores.0194.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper to 0. Benson S8308207J approach that economic development and gender equality has a ‘U’ relationship. The tendency of the plots to remain near the x-axis. and the high instances of negative rates of change of gender equality scores despite an increase of GDP growth rates. Table 10 shows the countries grouped together according to their GDP growth rates and the corresponding averaged rates of change of gender equality scores.

suggesting that per capita GDP at the low levels does not affect gender equality. The results show that gender equality scores are lowest when the country is in the upper middle-income bracket. the plots are uniformly near the X-axis. as per capita GDP increases. supporting the modernisationneoclassical approach Table 12 shows the countries grouped together according to their per capita GDP performance and the corresponding averaged gender equality scores. gender equality would remain low.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. Benson S8308207J Per capita GDP and Gender Equality Scores Table 11 shows the per capita GDP and the corresponding gender equality scores for each country each year. except for some outlying cases. suggesting that generally. there is a wide and uniform dispersal of plots. and Figure 6 shows the relationship on a line chart. 13 . The results show that at low levels of per capita GDP. supporting the Boserup approach that economic development and gender equality have a ‘U’ shaped relationship. at the per capita GDP increases. Rates of Change of per Capita GDP and Rates of Change of Gender Equality Scores Table 13 shows the rates of change of per capita GDP and the corresponding rates of change of gender equality scores for each country each year. Figure 5 shows the relationship on a scatter plot. Figure 7 shows the relationship on a scatter plot. However.

when the rates of change of per capita GDP is more than 20%. Finally. moving towards 0%. 14 . suggesting that the rates of change of per capita GDP do not affect the rates of change of gender equality scores. the rates of change of gender equality scores decreases. and Figure 8 shows the relationship on a line chart. As economic development continues from where the rates of per capita GDP is positive and increasing. Benson S8308207J The results show that the plots congregate near the X-axis. Table 14 shows the countries grouped together according to their rates of change of per capita GDP and the corresponding averaged rates of change of gender equality scores. the rates of change of gender equality scores is increasing. gender equality scores increases at a slower rate. This supports the feminist approach that economic development decreases gender equality. to a point where the rates of change of gender equality scores is negative at high rates of change of per capita GDP This suggests that economic development increases gender equality at a faster rate only at a point when the rates of change of per capita GDP is negative and rising towards 0%. the rates of change of gender equality scores turns negative as economic development is at the high stages. As the rates of change of per capita GDP increases from 0%.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. except for a few outliers. supporting the modernisation-neoclassical approach. The results show that in times of negative rates of change of per capita GDP.

The results show that at low levels of per capita GNI. Table 16 shows the countries grouped together according to per capita GNI and the corresponding averaged gender equality scores. only that gender equality scores is highest when the country is in the upper middle-income bracket. suggesting gender that generally. at per capita GNI increases. The results shows that there is no clear relationship between per capita GNI and gender equality scores. Rates of Change of per capita GNI and Rates of Change of Gender Equality Scores Table 17 shows the rates of change of per capita GNI and the corresponding rates of change of gender equality scores for each 15 . except for some outlying cases. Benson S8308207J Per capita GNI and Gender Equality Scores Table 15 shows the per capita GNI and the corresponding gender equality scores for each country each year. there is a wide and uniform dispersal of plots. Figure 9 shows the relationship on a scatter plot. development the increases. the plots are uniformly near to the X-axis.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. However. suggesting that per capita GNI at the low levels does not affect gender equality scores. This supports the Boserup approach that economic development and gender equality have a ‘U’ shaped relationship. as economic high. and Figure 10 shows the relationship on a line chart. equality remains supporting modernisation-neoclassical approach.

when the rates of change of per capita GNI is more than 20%. moving towards 0%. the rates of change of gender equality is increasing. except for a few outliers. Table 18 shows the countries grouped together according to their rates of change of per capita GNI and the corresponding averaged rates of change of gender equality scores. gender equality scores increases at a slower rate. Benson S8308207J country each year. The results show that in times of negative rates of change of per capita GNI. Figure 11 shows the relationship on a scatter plot. the rates of change of gender equality scores seem to decrease as economic development is at the high stages. As the rates of change of per capita GNI increases from 0%. As economic development continues from where the rates of per capita GNI is positive and increasing. the rates of change of equality decreases. and Figure 12 shows the relationship on a line chart.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. supporting the modernisation-neoclassical approach. Finally. suggesting that the rates of change of per capita GNI do not affect the rate of change of gender equality. This supports 16 . The results show that the plots congregate near the X-axis. to a point where the rates of change of gender equality is negative at high rates of change of per capita GNI This suggests that economic development increases gender equality at a faster rate only at a point when rates of change of per capita GNI is negative and rising towards 0%.

Poverty Levels and Gender Equality Table 19 shows the available data for poverty levels for each country with the corresponding gender equality scores for the year. suggesting that poverty levels do not affect gender equality. Results show that the plots hover 17 . Results show a wide dispersal of plots regardless of instances of poverty. gender equality scores increases. Figure 13 shows the relationship on a scatter plot. The results show that as poverty rates decrease. gender equality decreases. Figure 14 shows the relationship on a line chart. The group for poverty levels between 10% to 20% is discarded as there is only one data point. Poverty Reduction Rates and Rates of Change of Gender Equality Scores Table 19 shows the available data for the poverty reduction rates each country with the corresponding rates of change of gender equality scores for each available year. Figure 15 shows the relationship on a scatter plot.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. Benson S8308207J the feminist approach that economic development decreases gender equality. This supports the feminist contention that as economic development increases. Table 20 shows the countries grouped together according to their poverty levels and the corresponding averaged gender equality scores.

whether the relationship supports one of the approaches or none at all depends on the economic indicators one uses. Table 21 shows the countries grouped together based on poverty reduction rates and the corresponding averaged rates of change of gender equality scores. The results show that the averaged rates of change for gender equality are negative for both periods of increasing poverty rates and poverty reduction rates above 20%. This suggests that economic development increases gender equality when the rate of change of poverty is moving from negative to a positive 10% rate. when the rate of change of poverty more than positive 10%. the verdict of the relationship between economic development and gender equality is still out. and therefore. Benson S8308207J mostly above X-axis regardless of the poverty reduction rate. 18 . supporting the feminist approach. In addition. This paper shows that all the approaches are supported at one point or another. and on which stage of economic development one looks at. the rates of change of averaged gender equality scores is negative.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. Summary of Key Results & Conclusion Table 22 shows the summary of the findings. supporting the modernisation-neoclassical approach. Figure 16 shows the relationship on a line chart. However. suggesting that poverty reduction rates do not affect gender equality.

Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. 19 . This paper readily agrees that there are limitations inherent in this paper. Examples of research could include legal institutions and the instances of discriminatory laws against women. a sampling all the Asian countries. to come up with a more generalizable and better supported validation of the approaches mentioned. religions. or a sampling of Asian countries based on regions. or other types of classifications. Amongst some of this is the small sample size of nine countries spread over the breadth of Asia. type of government. These strategies can focus on the institutions of the individual countries and the effect on gender equality. Another possible future research strategy would be to look at a few individual countries to see why one approach works in one country but another approach works in another. and social institutions affecting economic activities favouring men over women. More research needs to be done to discover why one approach is supported in one instance but another approach supported in another. Benson S8308207J This paper suggests that a generalizable economic theory explaining the relationship between economic development and gender equality should not be the end and focus of research in this area. Future research can embark on. if the information is available. grouped according to similar experiences of economic conditions.

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Jr (1991).pdf. 25 . note (2). 8 Supra. note (2). M. 22 Ibid. & Jutting. (undated). 8 11 Supra. 15 China and Vietnam are officially communist. 4 Morrison. see Story of Pakistan found on http://www. 11.oecd. C. note (4). (2004). Gender Discrimination and its Indicators: A Research Agenda at pp. 17 Mukhopadhyay. 11. Measuring Inequality: Gender-related Development Index (GDI) and Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM).C. 13. 4. 24 Ibid. 7 UNICEF (undated). at pp. 25 Ibid. 12 Supra. 20 Ibid. at pp. at pp. at pp. Income and Growth: Are Good Times Good for Women? 2 Chen. note (4). 26 Ibid. it is arguable that these countries experience a strong influence from Buddhism. (2004). at pp. & Gatti. 21 Ibid. However. The Impact of Social Institutions on the Economic role of Women in Developing Countries. 3. 27 Supra. Factsheet: Early Marriage. S. The Differential Effect of Mother’s Education on Mortality of Boys and Girls in India. 5. 6 & 8. 9 Supra. 16 UNDP. 11. L. at pp. South Korea’s official census in 1995 shows 49% of the population choosing ‘no religion’ as the answer. and hence there is no state religion. 5 Esteve-Volart. at pp. 23 Supra. note (2). at pp. H. 5. at pp. at pp. D. J. & Sudarshan. 4. Gender Inequality. K. at pp. Gender Discrimination and Growth: Theory and Evidence from India. at pp. note (17). 13.Economic Development in Asia Research Paper Tan Zhiyang. 8. (1997). 28 Supra. 13 Ibid. note (4). 8-9. & Walker. Benson S8308207J Notes 1 Dollar. M. Taoism and Confucianism through history. at pp.org/dataoecd/23/43/31652310. 1. 17. 6 Bourne. at pp. note (2). D.storyofpakistan. it has seen military rule three times lasting a total of thirty-three years. R. 19 Ibid.com. at pp. Retrieved on 1st February 2009 from http://www. 10 Supra. at pp. 6 & 8. 8. Gender Equality and Economic Development: The Role for Information and Communication Technologies. (1999). 3. 3 Supra. at pp. 11. G. B. at pp. note (4). For more information. 14 Even though Pakistan is formally a federal republic since its independence in 1947. note (1). R. (2004). at pp. 18 Supra.

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