Getting Down to Business: Women, Work, and the Global Economy
With an aging population and declining productivity growth, Europe faces serious challenges to raising its output growth. Adding to these challenges are the various gender gaps in the labor market. Despite significant progress in recent decades, there are still fewer women than men participating in Europe’s labor market, and women are more likely to work part time.
Furthermore, a smaller share of women reaches the top rungs of the corporate ladder. Could greater gender equality in the labor market help mitigate the slowdown in Europe’s growth potential?
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February 10, 2016
This paper examines trends in indicators of gender equality and women’s development, using evidence derived from individual indicators and gender equality indices. We extend both the United Nations Development Program’s Gender Development Index and Gender Inequality Index to examine time trends. In recent decades, the world has moved closer to gender equality and narrowed gaps in education, health, and economic and political opportunity; however, substantial differences remain, especially in South Asia, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. The results suggest countries can make meaningful improvements in gender equality, even while significant income differences between countries remain.
February 9, 2016
This paper examines the macroeconomic interaction between informality and gender inequality in the labor market. A dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model is built to study the impact of gender-targeted policies on female labor force participation, female formal employment, gender wage gap, as well as on aggregate economic outcomes. The model is estimated using Bayesian techniques and Indian data. Although these policies are found to increase female labor force participation and output, lack of sufficient formal job creation due to labor market rigidities leads to an increase in unemployment and informality, and further widens gender gaps in formal employment and wages. Simultaneously implementing such policies with formal job creating policies helps remove these adverse impacts while also leading to significantly larger gains in output.
October 22, 2015
The attainment of a more equitable society and narrowing gender differences are two issues that are drawing considerable attention from policymakers in a number of countries. There is also increasing recognition that the pursuit of these two objectives is not just desirable from a social equity perspective, but that it would have beneficial effects for the macroeconomy. As a result, a number of papers have studied the links between income inequality and growth, as well as female labor force participation and its link to the overall economy. This paper aims to extend this literature by documenting the links between inequality of income and that of gender.
February 23, 2015
This Staff Discussion Note examines the effect of gender-based legal restrictions and other policy choices and demographic characteristics on female labor force participation. Drawing on a large and novel panel data set of gender-related legal restrictions, the study finds that restrictions on women’s rights to inheritance and property, as well as legal impediments to undertaking economic activities such as opening a bank account or freely pursuing a profession, are strongly associated with larger gender gaps in labor force participation. These factors have a significant additional impact on female labor force participation over and above the effects of demographic characteristics and policies. In many cases, the gender gaps caused by these restrictions also have macro-critical effects in terms of an impact on GDP.
In February 2016, the IMF launched an online campaign for innovative women to share their stories under the hashtag #IMFGender. The stories we received were powerful and inspirational. Women are using every tool possible to advance and lift-up their communities. Below are some of the inspiring stories women shared with us:
Pakistan— Founder and President of The Digital League
Read her story
The person. Maria is from Pakistan and is involved with capacity training in a remote northern area of Pakistan in partnership with a local NGO. In the first 2 months they have trained over 200 locals in various online work skills. In addition, Maria is an advisor to Think Global Institute, a nonprofit global business accelerator. Maria also fills the role of mentor and inspired leader.
The Initiative: Training rural Pakistani Women in micro online tasks. The organization focuses on all kinds of computer-based services such as affordable content writing, virtual assistance, Facebook/Blackberry/iPhone apps, CRM systems, CMS systems, website development, and videography to clients all over the world.
Brazil—Co-founder of Empowerit team
Read her story
The person. Marcela is a software developer at the Institute of Projects and Research of the Ceará State University in Brazil. She graduated in Computer Science in 2015, with an exchange program at Arizona State University.
The Initiative: She created an application that connects corporations with female entrepreneurs. Marcela Alves and her partner Brenda Miranda created an online tool called Empower-it. It is designed to help corporations connect with women entrepreneurs to do business with each other. The applications allow women to register their business and make the first contact based on the results of searches done through some specific filters such as sectors of industry or company certification.
Lina Ben Mhenni
Tunisia — The blogger of the Jasmine revolution
Read her story
The person. Lina is a blogger and activist who had a prominent role during the Tunisia revolution. She has been awarded the Deutsche Welle International Blog Award and El Mundo’s International Journalism Prize.
The Initiative: The blogger of the Jasmine revolution in Tunisia. She was one of the few bloggers who was able to blog from ground zero of the revolution in Tunisia. Through her accounts and photos, she managed to mirror the situation inside the country in the media worldwide.
by Christine Lagarde
March 7, 2016
International Women’s Day—March 8—is one of my favorite days. It is a time to celebrate the impressive progress women at all levels of the career ladder have made in recent decades […]
by Antoinette Sayeh
November 16, 2015
Rising inequality is both a moral and economic issue that has implications for the general health of the global economy, and impacts prosperity and growth. So it’s not surprising that reducing inequality is an integral part of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders at the […]
By Benedict Clements, Kamil Dybczak, and Mauricio Soto
October 27, 2015
Populations are getting older around the world—that’s no surprise in light of declining fertility and improvements in health care. But in many countries, something more dramatic is going on—the population is actually shrinking. These demographic developments portend stark fiscal challenges. What should countries—whatever […]
By Sonali Jain-Chandra, Kalpana Kochhar, and Monique Newiak
October 22, 2015
Despite progress, wide gaps between women and men’s economic empowerment and opportunity remain, which policymakers need to tackle urgently. In most countries, more men than women work, and they get paid more for similar work. Also, there are considerable gender gaps in access to […]
By Christine Lagarde
February 23, 2015
Leveling the legal playing field for women holds real promise for the world—in both human and economic terms. Unfortunately, that promise remains largely ignored and its potential untapped. In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to […]
February 23, 2015
Melanne Verveer , served as Ambassador-at-Large for global women’s issues under President Obama. She says more women in small and medium sized enterprises is a catalyst for growth.
December 31, 2014
The IMF says the global economy would benefit by Boosting Women’s Participation in the Labor Force, and hosted a seminar on the topic last fall during the Fund’s annual meetings. Sarah Iqbal participated in that forum and talks in this podcast about the hurdles women face when starting a business.
June 14, 2013
Despite outnumbering men as college graduates within OECD countries, women are still underrepresented at the very top managerial levels, particularly in finance & business. A group of women veterans of Wall street describe how they got to Wall Street, what they found there, and offer advice to young women who want to get there.
March 7, 2016
Europe faces serious challenges to increasing future output growth. Improving women’s participation in the overall labor market and their representation in senior corporate positions is one important strategy European countries could pursue to help mitigate the projected slowdown in growth
October 22, 2015
More men work than women in most countries, and they get paid more for similar work.
In many countries, girls and women have less access to education, health and finance than boys and men. Greater gender equality would benefit the economy through higher growth and lower income inequality.
May 19, 2014
By By Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF at the National Democratic Institute, Washington DC
"My message is simple: we need a 21st century mentality for women’s economic participation. We need to flush away the flotsam of ingrained gender inequality."
Getting Down to Business: Women, Work, and the Global Economy; April 13, 2016
Women comprise a little more than half the world’s population, yet significant gender gaps in labor markets constrain their contribution to measured economy activity and growth. Earlier IMF research pointed to the importance of increasing female participation as part of the economic recipe to boost growth prospects in a wide range of countries, including many advanced economies. Most recent research by the IMF suggests that more women in senior corporate positions may also improve firms’ financial performance. Despite significant progress in recent decades, progress toward gender equality is hampered by gaps in participation in the labor force, earnings, and the limited number of women in senior positions. This panel of experts will examine the role that women’s role in the labor market plays in overall growth and stability. But the debate doesn’t end in the corporate sector. New research also shows that public policy may have just as much a role to play as personal choice in women’s decision to work. How does tax policy play an unintended role in keeping women out of the labor force?