'Has growth been good for women’s employment in Pakistan?', by Hadia Majid and Karin Astrid Siegmann

ISS working paper 630

Authors' abstract

In this paper, we analyse the gender inclusiveness of Pakistan’s economic growth performance as measured by the rate at which employment changes when GDP increases by one percentage point. Our results show not only differences in such employment elasticities across sectors but also across genders. Rooted in women’s status as secondary workers within Pakistan’s labour force, their employment is commonly more responsive to the business cycle. Surprising results include that gender wage equality is positively associated with employment elasticities. Furthermore, we question the optimistic narrative that education improves women’s ability to take up employment in periods of positive GDP growth.

Economic growth, employment, gender, growth elasticity of employment, inclusive growth, Pakistan

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About the authors

Hadia Majid is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Lahore University of Management Sciences. A Fulbright Scholar, she holds a PhD in Development Economics from The Ohio State University. Her research interests include economics of the household, parental decision-making, and human capital acquisition. Currently, her work is centered on labor markets. Here, her projects include mapping various aspects of the female labour force participation in Pakistan over the past 25 years, examining the constraints and vulnerabilities of women in the urban informal economy, and the links between macroeconomic growth and gendered employment. She is also running a quasi-experiment studying the impact of the Lahore Rapid Bus Transit on labour market outcomes.

Holding a PhD degree in Agricultural Economics, Karin Astrid Siegmann works as a Senior Lecturer in Labour and Gender Economics at the International Institute of Social Studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS). She is keen to understand how precarious workers’ collective agency can change the social, economic and political structures that marginalise labour. This interest in workers’ transformative social protection emerges from her earlier research on how precarious work is fashioned at the intersection of global economic processes with local labour markets, stratified by varying degrees of formality of work, gender, as well as other social identities. She has investigated these dynamics in the context of global production networks, global care chains and international migration more generally. The geographical focus of her work has been South Asia and Pakistan, in particular.

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