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Trade and Female Labor Participation: Stylized Facts Using a Global Dataset

Nadia Rocha and Deborah Winkler ()

No 9098, Policy Research Working Paper Series from The World Bank

Abstract: Using a cross-section of more than 29,000 manufacturing firms in 64 developing and emerging countries from the World Bank's Enterprise Surveys, this paper assesses whether trading firms have a female labor share premium relative to non-trading firms. It focuses on four types of trading firms: exporters, importers, global value chain participants, and foreign firms. The study finds a female labor share premium for all four trading types, controlling for firm output, capital intensity, total factor productivity, and fixed effects. The findings also hold after controlling for differences in relative wages between men and women and excluding traditional export sectors (apparel and electronics) from the sample. The female labor share premium is much higher for production workers compared with non-production workers, implying that women specialize in low-skill production. In line with these findings, the study finds that the female labor share premium for exporters and global value chain participants is highest in low-tech sectors. And female ownership and management expand the female labor share premium for trading firms. Finally, the results suggest that although average wage rates are lower for firms with higher female labor shares, this negative correlation is smaller for trading firms.

Date: 2019-12-26
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