My Two Cents

The Global Gender Gap

Chris Farrell Oct 31, 2007

This item comes from Ricardo Hausmann, a guest blogger on the site of Professor Dani Rodrik. For anyone intersted in development economics Rodrok’s blog is a must read.

Good news on the gender gap front

by Ricardo Hausmann, guest columnist
We are all so affected by bad news on so many fronts – rising global inequality, a looming economic crisis, a warming planet, etc. – that we seldom take the time to savor the good news when they happen.

According to the latest gender related statistics published in the 2007 World Development Indicators (WDI) by the World Bank, the gaps between the sexes are going through a major shift worldwide. In 2006, literacy ratios of young women between the ages of 15 and 25 were higher than young men’s in 54 out of 123 countries.

If we look at secondary school enrollment, in 2004 there were 84 out of 171 countries in which girls outnumbered boys. At college level, this is also true in 83 out of 141 reporting countries.

similar story emerges when we look at labor force participation. In 2005, women represented on average 40.3 percent of the in a sample of 200 countries. The graph below shows the percentage of the labor force composed of women in 2005 in the horizontal axis and the change of this variable the 1990-2005 period. While 78 countries show declines, including Egypt, Turkey, Sudan and Georgia, 122 countries show increases, many of them quite substantial, including Iran and Libya… .

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